Skip to main content

Full text of "Tilden memorabilia; a series of historical letters"

See other formats

This is a digital copy of a book that was preserved for generations on library shelves before it was carefully scanned by Google as part of a project 
to make the world's books discoverable online. 

It has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject 
to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired. Whether a book is in the public domain may vary country to country. Public domain books 
are our gateways to the past, representing a wealth of history, culture and knowledge that's often difficult to discover. 

Marks, notations and other marginalia present in the original volume will appear in this file - a reminder of this book's long journey from the 
publisher to a library and finally to you. 

Usage guidelines 

Google is proud to partner with libraries to digitize public domain materials and make them widely accessible. Public domain books belong to the 
public and we are merely their custodians. Nevertheless, this work is expensive, so in order to keep providing this resource, we have taken steps to 
prevent abuse by commercial parties, including placing technical restrictions on automated querying. 

We also ask that you: 

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for 
personal, non-commercial purposes. 

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort to Google's system: If you are conducting research on machine 
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the 
use of public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help. 

+ Maintain attribution The Google "watermark" you see on each file is essential for informing people about this project and helping them find 
additional materials through Google Book Search. Please do not remove it. 

+ Keep it legal Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just 
because we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States, that the work is also in the public domain for users in other 
countries. Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of 
any specific book is allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Google Book Search means it can be used in any manner 
anywhere in the world. Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe. 

About Google Book Search 

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and to make it universally accessible and useful. Google Book Search helps readers 
discover the world's books while helping authors and publishers reach new audiences. You can search through the full text of this book on the web 

at jhttp : //books . qooqle . com/ 



J 5 



<m AlTT^fl 



Digitized by vJOO 




Digitized by VjOOQlC 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 



L. r/ fJ 

jf Fairfax Mclaughlin. 


The National Printing Company, 

16-22 Chambers Street. 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Id Lavw 





The approaching Presidential election may be regarded as another " Im- 
pending Crisis." Mistakes made now may be attended with irretrievable conse- 
quences. We made one in 1876. Shall we make another in 1880 ? I have been 
thinking a good deal of late, as probably a great many others have been doing, 
whether it is wise policy to put very old men at the head of the Government. I 
think it is bad policy, because an aged man holds his life by a frail tenure 
and may pass away at any moment. Frequent changes of administration are 
full of peril. They disturb the country and are unfavorable not only to the 
national and business interests, but to the stability of our institutions. To put 
an infirm man of 70 years of age at the head of affairs is to run a great and 
unnecessary risk. That is the age at which the constitutions of many of the 
States retire Judges from their seats on the bench. Such a provision is found- 
ed in wisdom, the inspired wisdon of the Bible, for 70 years is what the Psalm- 
ist allows as the measure of our days. " The days of our age are three-score 
years and ten ; and though men be so strong that they come to four-score years, 
yet is their strength then but labor and sorrow ; so soon passeth it away, and 
we are gone." 

There are two things of great interest to the American people at this day 
upon which the Constitution is silent : First, It does not prohibit a candidato 
from running for a third term for President ; Second, It does not disqualify a 
citizen who is 70 years of age from filling the Presidential office. 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


But in civil government, as well as in moral law, there are two kinds ot 
evil, each of which is to be avoided. The one is expressly mentioned in the 
letter of the law, and is called by the publicists malum prohibitum, a prohibited * 
evil ; the other, upon which the law is silent, is called malum in se — an evil in 
itself. The latter is often a graver evil than any denounced in constitutions 
and statute-books. 

American history affords an unbroken line of precedents against septuage- 
narian candidates for the Presidency. I shall here consider the dangers to the 
country which would be apt to follow the accession of an infirm and aged man 
to that office. 

Samuel J. Tilden was born at New Lebanon, Columbia County, New York. 
The date of his birth is in doubt. Mr. Cook, who wrote an amusing campaign 
life of Mr. Tilden in 1876, asserts that it was Feb. 9th, 1814. But I have read 
Lieut. Gov. Dorsheimer informed the correspondent of the Chicago Tribune at 
Saratoga Springs, on the 12th of August, 1879, that the true date was Feb. 9., 
1810. According to Cook's dates, who wrote under the personal direction of Mr. 
Tilden himself, the latter was 66 years old on the 9th of February, 1880. Ac- 
cording to Dorsheimer's reckoning, who mentioned Gov. Seymour as his inform- 
ant, Tilden completed his 70th year on the 9th of February, 1880. When a man 
has cut a figure in the world, the exact time of his birth, especially if there 
is a controversy about it, becomes an interesting question to the public. As 
young Mr. Cook is known to have written the campaign life of Tilden under that 
gentleman's immediate supervision, the reasons for Lieut. -Gov. Dorsheimer's 
rejeotion of Mr. Tilden's own statement in respeot to his age are worthy of ex- 

Cook says at page 1 of his book : " Samuel J. Tilden was born in New Leb- 
anon, Columbia County. New York, on the 9th day of February, 1814." Mr. 
Dorsheimer said in reply to the question of the correspondent of the Chicago 
Tribune : "Well, Mr. Tilden is really about 70 years old. He will be 70 years 
old next February, and 71 years old at the next Presidential election." " But 
Tilden says he is only 65 years old," suggested the correspondent. "I know 
it," replied the Lieutenant-Governor ; " I know he says so, because it is policy, 
for political reasons, for him to be younger than he really is. Now I've been 
talking with Horatio Seymour up at Utica about Mr. Tilden's age a good deal 
lately; and Mr. Seymour says that Mr. Tilden has dropped five years from his 
true age. Mr. Seymour says that for twenty years before Mr. Tilden ran for 
the Presidency they used frequently to compare their ages, and Mr. Tilden was 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


a few month's older than he. Mr. Tilden's birthday is in February, while Mr. 
Seymour's is in May." 

" How did Gov. Seymour express the idea to you f • I mean, give me his 
exact words," said the newspaper man. %i Well," said Lieutenant Gov. Dors- 
heimer, " Seymour said : ' Tilden and I (Seymour) are about the same age. 
I will be 69 in May, 1879, and Tilden was 69 in February. Tilden is a few 
months older than I am. He is going on 70 years old ; and when he says he is 
65 years old he does it for political reasons/ " 

It will be recollected that some time last year an extended biographical 
sketch of Horatio Seymour was published in the New York Times. An editorial 
appeared in the same paper on the 5th of December, 1879, giving publicity to 
a remark of Gov. Seymour to the representative of the Times, which it was al- 
leged by the editor had been, withheld from publication when the sketch ap- 
peared, at the request of Gov. Seymour himself that it should not be given at 
that time. Here is the remark of the Sage of Deerfield, as it appeared in the 
Times last December : " When I see tottering gray beards about the edge of 
the grave, engaged in a scramble for place and power, I am reminded of ' Hol- 
bein's Dance of Death.' I have a morbid horror of such a picture, and I shall 
never be found making one in such a cotillion." 

The recent attacks of some of Mr. Tilden's agents on Gov. Seymour, and 
the hisses with which they received the mention of his name at their late 
Syracuse Convention, may be better understood in the light of the preceding 
remark, and of Lieut. -Gov. Dorsheimer's reported revelations to the correspond- 
ent of the Chicago Tribune. 

I have but a single comment to make in this connection. Mr. Tilden 
wrote an ." Address to the People " during the Presidential campaign of 1832, 
now nearly fifty years ago, which Martin Van Buren procured to be published 
in the Albany Argus. With vain labor Mr. Tilden's biographer attempts to 
explain away the palpable absurdity between the date which he assigns for the 
birth of Tilden and the date when the above " Address to the People" was 
written. Cook says Mr. Van Buren " did not stop to inquire the age of the 
author. He accepted him off-hand as one worthy to think for the party " (p. 7). 
Yet, if he was born in 1814, the author of this "supreme effort of the Demo- 
crats," as Cook styles it, was a beardless boy of 18, who had then never seen 
the inside of a college. When it is remembered that Mr. Tilden has a tendency 
to paralysis, and that his left arm and eye show the incipient blight of that or 
some cognate disease, his tenderness about his age is satisfactorily explained. 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


He cannot now stand much fatigue. His mind, absorbed for so long by the 
overmastering passion for making money, responds bat inertly to the demands 
npon it. Avarice, the vice of old age, too often grows more and more with the 
decay of the faculties. Even the ambition to become President cannot control 
it. One of Mr. Tilden's most profitable and questionable speculations was 
made last summer. " Cipher Allen is running," was the expressive way in 
which a Wall street man wired the news to Mr. Cyrus W. Field in England 
that Mr. Tilden was flooding the market with Elevated Railroad stock, and re- 
morselessly adding to his "barT' a million of the tax-payers' money in violation 
of his promises to the over-confiding Mr. Field. The St. Louis, Alton and 
Terre Haute confession and restitution are of still more recent occurence* 

But, I repeat, there is no constitutional limitation, except in the minimum 
scale, upon the age of the Presidents. By the first section of Article II. of the 
Constitution among other qualifications required in candidates for the Presiden- 
cy, it is provided as follows: " Neither shall any person be eligible to that office 
who shall not have attained to the age of 35 years, and been fourteen years a 
resident within the United States." According to Mr. Tilden's own admission 
respecting his age, he will be in his 68th year should he live until the 4th of 
March, 1881, when the next President of the United States will enter the White 
House. According to the alleged Seymour-Dorsheimer dates, which are borne 
out by the internal evidence of the case, and which I must therefore accept as 
probably true, Mr. Tilden if alive will be in his 72d year when next March 
shall have rolled round. 

There has never been a single President, from Washington to Hayes, who 
had reached so great an age as this, either upon his accession to or at his re- 
tirement from the Presidential office. Gen. Harrison, the most aged of all the 
Presidents, was 68 years, 3 weeks and 2 days old when he entered the White 
House. It took the handshakers and applicants for office precisely one month 
to kill him. When Washington was elected he was 57 years old ; John Adams 
was 62 years old ; Jefferson, 58 years old; Madison, 58; Monroe, 59; John 
Quincy Adams, 58 ; Jackson, 62 ; Van Buren, 54 ; Harrison 68 (and he died in 
a month); Tyler, 51; Polk, 50; Taylor, 64 (and he died within sixteen 
months); Fillmore, 50; Pierce, 48; Buchanan, 65; Lincoln, 52; Johnson, 56; 
Grant, 46 ; Hayes, 54. 

From these figures some interesting conclusions are deducible. It will be 
observed that the table of mortality among the Presidents is confined to those 
who had passed their 65th year. Mr. Lincoln was assassinated and therefore 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


is not included in the basis of the calculation. Mr. Buchauan was 65 years 
old when he became President, but he was a man of extraordinary physical 
powers, extremely abstemious in eating and drinking, and was in the habit of 
retiring every night at 9 o'clock, a rule he never transcended without great re- 
luctance. When the Prince of Wales was a guest at the White House in 1859, 
some of the company proposed a quadrille one evening about 9.30 o'clock, but 
the Prince objected lest the music should disturb Mr. Buchanan's slumbers. 
This robust man died not very long after he left the Executive office, when he 
was not far beyond the present age of Mr. Tilden. Seven of the Presidents were 
re-elected and six of them filled a second term, yet not one of them at the close 
of his eight years as Chief Magistrate was as old as Mr. Tilden will be on the 
4th of next March. Horace Greeley, tempest- tossed and prostrated, fell a vic- 
tim to the excitements of a Presidential struggle at a time when he was eight 
years younger than Mr. Tilden is at present. 

There is no other position in the world more trying than that of Presi- 
dent of the United States. A man over 70 years old and in feeble health who 
should be placed in that office would feel as though he had been thrown into 
the rapids of Niagara. The next census will show nearly 50,000,000 people 
for our President to rule over. Hundreds of thousands of these will go to 
shake his hand and tug at his arm, while other hundreds of thousands of 
them, personally or by proxy, will keep him on the rack as long as he has an 
office to give away. Would not an infirm septuagenarian be tempted to take 
the plunge of the political Niagara in sheer desperation over the prospect of 
ever living to the end of his term f Nor would these be all of his burdens. 
The opposition finds its delight and often its chief profit in annoying the 
President. It keeps up petty and incessant attacks on him, sometimes a fierce 
and formidable warfare. If parties are nearly evenly balanced, the Adminis- 
tration party will have their hands full in carrying through their measures. 
If the opposition is in a majority, the President is at the mercy of his enemies ; 
the sole actual source of power left to him is the Executive veto. No one has 
forgotten the onslaught of the Republican Senate and House on Andrew John- 
son. Had Mr. Johnson been 70 years old instead of 56, the stroke of apoplexy 
which finally took him off probably would have befallen him in the White 
House. And Mr. Johnson was, what Mr. Tilden is not, a man of iron nerve 
and indomitable spirit. 

" Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown/' is as true to-day as it was 
when Shakespeare said it, whether the head be that of Emperor, Czar, or 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


President. It must be clear to reflecting men that the chances of a President in im- 
paired health, and over 70 years old of surviving to the close of his term, would 
hardly be as one to twenty. No good insurance company could be induced to take a 
risk on his life. Why should the people of the whole United States be expected to doit t 



In the last paper I adduced some of the more obvious reasons against the 
election of an infirm and aged man to the Presidency of the United States. 
I endeavored to make it clear, on the reported testimony of Gov. Seymour and Mr. 
Dorsheimer, as well as by the internal evidence of the case, that Samuel J. 
Tilden is over 70 years of age, and that he will be, if alive on the 4th of next 
March, in his 72d year. I further called attention to the fact that no Presi- 
dent, from Washington to Hayes, inclusive, was as old at the close either of 
his first or second term as Mr. Tilden will be on the recurrence of his next 
birthday, February 9, 1861. Gen. Harrison, the oldest of them all, was 68 
years of age, and died in a month after his inauguration. Gen. Taylor was in 
his 65th year, and died early in the second year of his administration. I con- 
cluded by expressing the opinion, in view of Mr. Tilden' s age and infirmities, 
that no good insurance company could be induced to insure his life, and by 
asking the question, why then should the people of the whole United States 
be expected to do it f 

This recapitulation brings me face to face with the direct consequences 
likely to follow if an old and decrepit citizen should be elevated to the Presi- 
dential office. From the first the Vice-President would undoubtedly be re- 
garded as the coming man. That official used to be called " his Superfluous 
Excellency," for from 1789 to 1840 the people of the United States were sen- 
sible enough to elect only Presidents in the prime of life, and none of them 
died in office. The old classical adage of a sound mind in a sound body, mens 
sana in corpore sano, was never lost sight of by the fathers. But the Whigs 
were rash enough to experiment with an old soldier in 1840, and then came 
Capt. Tyler to break the tradition of "his Superfluous Excellency," and to 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


vault into the saddle of the dead Cid. In the eyes of an aged President and 
his whole vast army of officeholders the Vice-President would appear a sort of 
spectre to conjure up forebodings of evil. A Vice-President's party would be 
formed, and this party banded together and subsisting on great expectations 
would always be on the lookout for a funeral at the White House. Should the 
President die, the succession with its sweeping removals from and appoint- 
ments to all offices, from Cabinet portfolios to tide-waiters, would be equiva- 
lent to a new Presidential election, that most trying of all the ordeals of un- 
certainty and danger to which the Federal Government is exposed. 

In the seventy-second number of the Federalist, Alexander Hamilton points 
out the peril of frequent Presidential changes, and what he styles the 
" intimate connection between the duration of the Executive Magistrate in 
office and the stability of the system of administration." He then, in his 
usual profound way, proceeds as follows to the discussion of the subject. : "To 
undo what has been done by a predecessor is .very often considered by a suc- 
cessor as the best proof he can give of his own capacity and desert ; * * and that 
the less he resembles him the more he will recommend himself to the favor of his 
constituents. These considerations," Mr. Hamilton continues, " and the in- 
fluence of personal confidences and attachments, would be likely to induce 
every new President to promote a change of men to fill the subordinate sta- 
tions, and these causes together could not fail to occasion a disgraceful and 
ruinous mutability in the administration of the Government. ,, — (The Federalist, 
p. 391.) This argument of the great statesman was directed only to the con- 
templation of the changes which would be brought about by a new election, 
or to use his own words, as u the result of public choice." How much more 
forcible is its application to the oase of a succession caused by the death of a 

It would seem on a superficial view of the subject, that a Vice-President 
chosen by the same party which elects the President could be equally relied 
on with him to carry out its will and conform his conduct to its principles'. 
But the supposition, plausible as it appears on its face, is an utter fallacy* 
Pregnant examples attest it. The Whigs in 1840 swept the country like a 
hurricane. Never was ushered in fairer morning to what promised to be a 
long day of sunshine for the Whigs than that which dawned on the morrow of 
the Hard Cider campaign of " Tippecanoe and Tyler too." The Democrats 
were thoroughly routed. The spell of the name of Jackson was broken* 
Daniel Webster walked Jove-like into the State Department. Henry Clay sat 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


in the Senate sovereign of the ascendant. John Minor Botts was the Adminis- 
tration whip in the House. In one little month the Whig dynasty, reared 
doric-like on these granite foundations, toppled from its place and was laid 
in the dust. Ilium fuit. President Harrison died in April. Vice-President 
Tyler succeeded to the Presidency. The Congress met in extra session on 
the 31st of May. A bill creating a Fiscal Bank of the United States, the new : 
fangled name which Clay had coined in order to placate Tyler, was passed on 
the 6th of August. On the 16th of August this bill— the darling project of the 
Whig party, for which they had pleaded and labored and battled so hard — was 
vetoed by President Tyler. That night so great was the excitement, a furious 
Whig mob attacked the President's house, while Mr. Calhoun, Mr. Buchanan 
and other Democratic Senators, and Mr. Gilmer and other Democratic Congress- 
men were said to be gathered together in the East room congratulating Presi- 
dent Tyler upon his veto, and holding high revel over the discomfiture of the 
Whigs. Levi Woodbury of New Hampshire, a few days after, introduced in 
the Senate a resolution of inquiry into the riotous proceedings outside of the 
White House on the night of the 16th of August. Henry Clay seized the occa- 
sion to twit the Democrats on the inside over their capture of the President a 
little earlier on the night of the riot on the outside. He indulged in one of those 
inimitable displays of badinage for which he was so noted, at the expense of 
John Tyler's Democratic guests. He described their visit as " an irruption 
into the President's house of the whole Locofoco party in Congress." He gave 
a description in character of each of the leading Democrats. The cartoon of 
Mr. Calhoun was very spirited, preserving enough resemblance to that great 
statesman to make the sketch an excellent hit. 

" I think," Mr. Clay said, " I can now see the principal dramatis personce 
who figured in the scene. There stood the grave and distinguished Senator 
from South Carolina " 

Mr. Calhoun instantly rose to make an explanation, but Mr. Clay would 
not yield or allow of interruption. " There, I say," he continued, "I can 
imagine stood the Senator from South Carolina, tall, careworn, with furrowed 
brow and haggard cheek and eye, intensely gazing, looking as if he were dis- 
secting the last and newest abstraction which sprang from some metaphysi- 
cian's brain, and muttering to himself, in half-uttered sounds, 'This is indeed 
a crisis.' n The latter was a favorite expression of Calhoun's, and the Senators 
were convulsed with laughter. Clay had the joke, but the Democrats had the 
President, thanks to the Whig blunder of electing to the Presidential office a 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


man who was nearly three-score years and ten. Is it probable that Mr. Tilden 
would last much longer than did Gen. Harrison f A week at hand-shaking, 
such as office-seekers know how to give, wonld probably do for an invaKd over 
70 years old. 

In spite of the Stern lesson the Whigs had received with Harrison, they re-* 
peated the same mistake eight years later by nominating another aged man for 
Chief Magistrate. Their first national success took place in 1840. They en- 
joyed . the fruits of victory just one month. Their second and last success 
was won in 1848. Gen. Taylor entered the White House March 4, 1849, and he 
died on the 9th of July, 1850, when he was in his 66th year. Millard Fillmore 
succeeded to the Presidency. A party revolution took place on the coming in of 
Mr. Fillmore far more radical than that which followed the Tyler succession. 
It culminated in the disruption and final extinction of the Whig party. John 
J. Crittenden and Alexander H. Stephens had been Gen. Taylor's chief advisers 
until William H. Seward captured the President and became the Administra- 
tion leader in the Senate. Mr. Stephens had been the first man to broach 
Taylor's name for the Presidency, and was one of the chief organizers of that 
famous Taylor phalanx among Congressmen known as the " Young Indians' 
Club." Abraham Lincoln, then a member of the House of Representatives, 
was in this club, and was an active Taylor man. Mr. Stephens was invited by 
the President to a seat in his Cabinet, but declined it, preferring parliamentary 
life, and recommended William Ballard Preston, of Virginia, in place of him- 
self for a Cabinet appointment. The President appointed Mr. Preston Secre- 
tary of the Navy, and became more attached to him than to any other member 
of his Cabinet. The old British constitutional fiction made the Lord High 
Chancellor keeper of the king's conscience. The dashing Virginian had 
not been long in the President's councils before the politicians discovered that 
the surest way to the President's heart was first to win that of Mr. Preston. 

On the meeting of the Legislature of New York in 1849, William H. 
Seward was a candidate for United States Senator. His election had been 
rendered possible by the Van Buren-Tilden bolt of the preceding year. Fully 
appreciating the importance of the Federal patronage in his contest for the 
Senatorship, Mr. Seward went to Washington, and paid assiduous court to Mr. 
Preston. As a charmer Seward had few equals. He was addicted to aphor- 
isms, and studied bon mots with the diligence of Sheridan. His affectation of 
philosophy was set off by good manners and easy address. He had been a school- 
master in Georgia, and had at his command a fund of South-of-Potomac anec- 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


dotes and remiuiscences. In the society of Southerners he was never so happy 
as when talking about the types and modes and fascinations of Southern society. 
The Taze wells, Randolphs, Gastons, Lowndeses, Calhouns, Crawfords, For- 
syths, Lumpkins, and other famous Cavaliers were all names familiar on Mr. 
Seward's lips as household words. 

It did not take him long to win Preston, and that gentleman soon set about 
the task of winning over Gen. Taylor to the side of the ingenuous ex-Governor 
of New York, who loved the South so mnch he could scarcely be brought to 
speak about anything else when in Secretary Preston's company. But Taylor's 
confidence was of slower growth than the other's. Seward's and Gilmer's cor- 
respondence, when they were respectively Governors of New York and Vir- 
ginia, in regard to the celebrated kidnapped negro case, and several other in- 
cidents in Seward's career, had given the latter the reputation of being a sec- 
tional agitator. If transferred to national politics, it was feared he would add 
new fuel to the flame of angry passions already raging between the North aiid 
South. The President above all things sought at the outset of his term to 
allay these passions, and to render his administration the era of pacification. 
When Preston made Seward aware of the obstacles to his preferment, the 
latter parried ail objections with admirable tact, and went so far as to com- 
mit himself by pledges to take no part in the fierce anti-slavery debates. He 
assured Mr. Preston, if he was successful in the contest, he would regard it 
as an Administration triumph in New York, and that in such event he would 
feel himself precluded from pursuing any line of conduct in the Senate which 
an exponent of the policy of the Administration could not with propriety and 
honor adopt. In a word, in consideration of the bestowal of the vast patron- 
age of the Administration in New York, Mr. Seward fully committed himself 
by pledges, which will yet see the light of day, to abstain from participation in 
the abolition movement, and to pursue a policy of conciliation and compromise 
at Washington. These committals and pledges brought the President to a 
favorable disposition in relation to Mr. Seward, and he was elected Senator to 
succeed a Democrat. 

But another difficulty stood in the way on Seward's arrival in Washing- 
ton, which was not less formidable than the first. Vice-President Fillmore 
and ex-Governor Seward were fierce political enemies, and personally Seward 
cordially hated Fillmore. They were the leaders respectively of the rival 
wings of the New York Whigs. The antagonism between them was as bitter 
and irreconcilable as is that between Tilden and Kelly in our own times. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Webster and Crittenden, and the leading Whigs of the Senate and House, 
were the friends of the Vice-President, and had been utterly opposed to the 
elevation of Seward on any terms. An angry controversy arose in Administra- 
tion circles. Alienations took place between life-long friends. These disputes 
served but to intensify the conflicting views of the disputants, as collisions of 
that character generally do. Preston, who had acquired complete personal as- 
cendancy over the President, found but little trouble to enlist the old hero of 
Buena Vista on the side of Mr. Seward. Mr. Fillmore had asked that two 
gentlemen whom he recommended might be appointed Collector of Customs 
and Postmaster at Buffalo, where he resided. But Seward opposed the appoint- 
ments and Taylor did not make them. Two Seward men, both enemies of 
Fillmore, were appointed. So little was the Vice-President regarded, or rather 
I should say, so oontumeliously, that he was compelled in self-respect to dis- 
continue his visits to the President's house. Seward was there all the time he 
could spare from the Senate, and he wielded the Administiation lash with ex- 
asperating malignity. The breach between the President and Vice-President 
now extended to their friends, and many of the leaders were not even on 
speaking terms. The Whig party was rent in twain. 

On the 11th day of March, 1850, Seward made a violent abolition speech 
in the Senate in contemptuous disregard of his pledges to William Ballard 
Preston. The Georgia schoolmaster had completely outwitted the Secretary 
of the Navy. Charles Francis Adams, the descendant of two Presidents who 
was aware of the " agreement " between Seward and Taylor's Administration, 
afterwards in his Albany memorial address on the Auburn statesman, made 
this violation of voluntary pledges a theme for eulogy. 

And now Seward in the month of March was master of the situation. In 
all human probability he would be the next President of the United States. 
He had only to stretch forth his hand and the sceptre was in his grasp. But 
his triumph was destined to be short-lived. The summer of his glory was soon 
overcast with stormy portents. Within four little months Zachary Taylor lay 
dead in the White House. The lesson of Harrison had been forgotten. Fill- 
more, Seward's dearest foe, was President. The Whig party soon went down 
forever, and William H. Seward was buried for the time being beneath its 
ruins. It was about this time Daniel Webster said to his old friend Peter 
Harvey : " One of Hhe convictions of my mind, and it is very strong, is that 
the people of the United States will never intrust their destinies and the 
administration of their Government to the hands of William H. Seward and 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


his associates." — ( u Reminiscences of Daniel Webster, by Peter Harvey , ; ' 
p. 200). 

In their day of power the Whigs had again elected an old man President 
who was physically at the end of his race. That mistake which had cost them 
so dearly the first time, proved when repeated the Iliad of all their woes. 



I undertook to show in my preceding letter that no Vice-President ever 
succeeded to the unexpired term of a President who died in office without 
grievous injury to the party in power. If a President needs must die, of course 
a Vice-President has to take his place, but it is a sort of stepfather arrange- 
ment all the same. u Ruinous mutability" is Hamilton's description of it. 
We have had three memorable examples in our history to establish the truth 
of my proposition — Tyler, Fillmore and Johnson. The Whig party was over- 
thrown in 1841 by its own Vice-President, John Tyler ; and it was destroyed in 
1852 by William H. Seward, Taylor's death and Vice-President Fillmore's ele- 
vation having hastened the catastrophe. If Taylor had lived, Seward would 
probably have striven to preserve the Whig party as a national organization. 
As it was, the Van Buren-Tilden-Lucius Robinson-Free Soil bolt of 1848 had 
payed the way for a new and still more bitter anti-Democratic party, and 
Seward was not slow to avail himself of the opportunity which these bolters 
gave to him. Thus Fillmore's accession hastened the downfall of the Whig, 
and the foundation of the Republican party. The case of Andrew Johnson is 
one of the most marked of all. The party which had elected him Vice-Presi- 
dent found itself at deadly war with the man of their own choice when he 
succeeded to the Presidency, after the sad and deplorable death of Mr. Lincoln 
by the assassin's pistol. New civil convulsions were on the point of breaking 

I have already lifted the veil a little, just a little, in ofder to afford to my 
readers an inside view of the methods by which Mr. Seward first got into na- 
tional politics. Perhaps I dwelt a little too long on this matter, but all the 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 

"RUINOUS mutability:' 15 

writers on the events of that day whose accounts I have seen are either silent 
in relation to the Taylor-Fillmore feud, or unsatisfactory and inaccurate in 
their explanations of its origin, as well as of its extent and bitterness, and the 
influence it had in the disintegration and extinction of the Whig party. Both 
Daniel Wehster and Charles Francis Adams date the beginning of the end of 
"Whigism as a national organization from the death of President Taylor. Had 
a younger man been in the White House, the revolution, in men and measures 
which followed upon the death of the old hero of Buena Vista probably would 
have been avoided, The overthrow of Sewardism was effected by Mr. Fillmore, 
and was salutary to every national interest. Still, the shock to the stability 
of the Federal system which is inseparable from frequent changes of adminis- 
tration cannot but be regarded as a calamity. If, instead of Gen. Taylor, the 
Whigs had elected Tom Corwin, or any other man nob in the decline of life, the 
Whig party might have survived to this day in all its pristine strength. Let the 
Democrats take to heart these impressive examples. The words of Horatio 
Seymour cannot be repeated too often. " When I see tottering gray -beards," 
he said, "about the edge of the grave, engaged in a scramble for place and 
power, I am reminded of ' Holbein's Dance of Death.' I have a morbid hor- 
ror of such a picture, and I shall never be found making one in such a cotil- 

The venerable Thurlow Weed might throw some light upon the Taylor- 
Fillmore feud, for he was Mr. Seward's fidus Achates, and uever again recovered 
his lost influence after the death of Gen. Taylor. That famous Whig writer 
" Oliver Oldschool" (Nathan Sargent), who was in Washington during those 
days, speaks of the enmity which had sprung up between Taylor and Fillmore 
and their several friends. But he confesses that he was ignorant of the cause 
of the trouble. In his account of the accession of Fillmore this writer says: 
" Called suddenly to assume the duties of President, Mr. Fillmore had a per- 
plexing task to perform in finding the proper men from different sections of 
the country to fill the highest offices under him. * * This required time— 
some weeks at least. But the members of the late Cabinet were unwilling to 
remain. Two or three did so reluctantly until the 22d of July ; the others left 
the city almost immediately. For some reason, " continues Sargent, "which I 
could never divine, there had been exhibited on the part of Gen. Taylor's 
Cabinet a very unfriendly disposition towards the Vice-President. No favor he 
had asked had been granted. He had recommended two gentleman for Col- 
lector of Customs and Postmaster at Buffalo, where he resided : neither was 

Digitized by VjOOQLC 


appointed, but in their stead men politically inimical to him— Whigs, but 
Seward, anti-Fillmore Whigs. There was cause, therefore, for these gentlemen 
not wishing to remain and perform the duties of their respective departments 
under such circumstances. Mr. Clayton, Secretary of State, left immediately, 
transacting no business whatever with Mr. Fillmore, and Mr. Webster was at 
once appointed in his place." — (" Public Men and Events," Vol. II , pp. 372- 

But Charles Francis Adams was better informed than Nathan Sargent of 
the underlying cause of the Whig feud. In his address, April 18, 1873, before 
the New York Legislature, on the life and character of William H. Seward, 
Mr. Adams expressly refers to the agreement between the Senator from New 
York and Taylor's Administration. Whether Mr. Seward ever confided to Mr. 
Adams the whole story of his secret pledges to William Ballard Preston, I 
know not. It is to be hoped he did not, for Adams exults over Seward's utter 
disregard of those self-imposed pledges, and the descendant of two Presidents 
would hardly justify such a thing as that, and find in Seward's bad faith a fit 
topic for glowing eulogy. Charles Francis Adams was the champion of Sam- 
uel J. Tilden in 1876, as Tilden had been the champion of Adams in 1848, when 
the latter was the Vice-Presidential candidate of the Buffalo Convention, to 
which Tilden was a delegate. The bolting Whigs and the bolting Democrats 
^who then united with the Massachusetts Abolitionists of the fanatical school 
and the Gerrit-Smith Abolitionists of the Liberty Party, and nominated Van 
Buren and Adams, presented a spectacle utterly incongruous in all its parts, of 
lifelong foes in apparent harmony, and of sincere sentimentalists and trading 
politicians exchanging the kiss of peace, which proved but a hollow truce until 
after the election. It is absolutely safe to say that the Buffalo Convention of 
1848 has no counterpart in American history, and quite as safe to predict that 
no such unnatural combination of unblushing venality and deluded philan- 
thropy will ever again disgrace the country. 

But I repeat that Charles Francis Adams, knows more about the political 
secrets of 1848-52 than did " Oliver Oldschool." So do Thurlow Weed and 
James Watson Webb. I would like to see Mr. Adams attempt to justify 
that part of his Seward eulogy in which he exults over his hero's violation 
of plighted faith. Daniel Webster, if alive to-day, could tell the whole story. 
Perhaps among his literary remains the true history of the last days of the 
Whig party may yet be found. Mr. Webster was the guide, philosopher and 
friend of Mr. Fillmore. He too had been subjected to the lash of the Taylor 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


Administration. " During the month of June," says Peter Harvey, " after the 
inauguration of President Taylor, I drove in company with Mr. Webster from 
Washington to the Virginia shore to a place called the ' Falls.' As we were 
passing through Alexandria, Mr. Webster ordered the coachman to stop, and 
pointing to an old and decaying mansion, he said : 

" ' That large white house, with dilapidated walls and broken fences, was 
the hotel where I boarded when I first entered Congress from New Hampshire. 
It was then the Federal headquarters. Gov. Gore, Rufns King and John 
Marshall were fellow boarders. Gov. Gore used to drive out of that gate in a 
coach drawn by lour horses and attended by servants in livery.' 

"After proceeding thus far Mr. Webster seemed to be lost in a profound 
reverie, and, apparently soliloquizing, he exclaimed : 

" ' All gone, all gone I They were extraordinary men. We shall never see 
their like again. Our country has no such men now ; but they are gone, all 
gone ! I shall soon follow, and I care very little how soon. * * The public 
are ungrateful. The man who serves the public most faithfully receives no 
adequate reward. In my own history, those acts which have been, before 
God, the most disinterested and the least stained by selfish considerations, 
have been precisely those for which I have been most freely abused. * * I 
have had in the course of my official life, which is not a short one, my full share 
of ingratitude; but the unkiudest cut of all — the shaft that has sunk deepest 
in my breast — has been the refusal of this Administration to grant my request 
for an office of small pecuniary consideration for my only son.'" — (" Reminis- 
cences of Webster," p. 176. ) 

Poor Fletcher Webster, this only son of the Great Expounder, was after- 
wards killed in the civil war, within a few miles of the spot where his father 
expressed his indignation over the treatment to which he had been subjected 
by William H. Seward. But within a single year from the date of the above 
conversation Webster was back in the State Department, and his son Fletcher 
was there too, while Seward was moralizing over the tremendous folly of elect- 
ing a decrepit old man President of the United States. 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 




Never was there a greater triumph won over the combined forces of cen- 
tralization and corruption than the Democratic Presidential victory of 1876. 
As earnest and brave a host as ever was marshalled went to the polls by mil- 
lions and buried Grantism and the Radical party in what should have been a 
grave without a resurrection. Putting forth their strength, like, the parting 
of the waters of the great deep, the Democrats elected the President by up- 
wards of 250,000 majority at the polls, and a majority of three Electoral Col- 
leges. The people had done their part. The chosen leader must now do his. 

Oh, for one hour of Andrew Jackson in that crisis of the national life ! 
But instead of Jackson, instead of the lordly eagle, we had only a paltry little 
wren of faction who was blown away like a feather at the first rustling of the 
storm. No man has a right to subject a great party to ignominy. Even a 
majority of the American people may be defeated ; but if led by a courageous 
and wise statesman, they never can be cheated and humiliated. When the 
people lay aside every other consideration and embark in a mighty struggle, 
they have a right after they have succeeded, to hold that man tm the sternest 
account who shrinks from the responsibility of making good the title they 
have bestowed upon him. He must have a craven heart who dares not up- 
hold the honor of his country after having impudently proclaimed himself its 
champion, and after he has been inde feasibly commissioned by the people 
and the Electoral Colleges as President of the United States. Is it con- 
ceivable that a man of heroic mould, to whom such a mighty trust had 
been committed, would sink down in abject terror while the sovereignty of the 
people and the States was being assassinated before his eyes? Not thus did 
Jefferson burrow in a hole when Aaron Burr was exhausting the resources of 
his satanic genius to snatch from him the Presidency in 1801. Right in the 
breach where the New England party was undermining him Mr. Jefferson 
took his position, as soon as it became known that he was the people's choice 
for President. But Jefferson was not a man of common clay like Tilden. He 
had the wisdom as well as the nerve to take the tide "at the flood," and to 
beconre the vindicator of the imperilled cause of his countrymen. During 
the course of an interesting debate in Congress in 1817, John Randolph de- 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


olared that the facts need be concealed no longer, and that the corrupt in- 
trigues of the Federalists to defeat Jefferson and elect Burr would have been 
resisted by arms ; that General Dark's brigade was ready to make good the 
people's will ; and if it had become necessary to do it, the conspiracy would 
have been met by foree. Happily, the patriotism of Alexander Hamilton rose 
superior to the ties of party and to his unfriendliness towards Jefferson. Hamil- 
ton went to Washington city and broke up the cabal between Burr and the Fed- 
eralists. Jefferson was elected, but poor Hamilton, as John Randolph declared, 
for this patriotic service in 1801, afterwards paid the penalty of his Hfe. Had 
he like Tilden at a later day laid perdu in New York while the conspiracy was 
hatching at the capital, the bullet of Burr never would have pierced his noble 
bosom. Mr. Tilden thinks perhaps that a person better be a coward than a corpse. 
An anecdote used to be told of a certain naval officer in the war of 1812 of the 
more timid *sort, whom a saucy Englishman once challenged to an engagement 
on the high seas. The American, though very well equipped, had some qualms 
about his guns, and so postponed the battle until after he had put into port to 
get a new supply. He there met Commodore Decatur, and explained the situa- 
tion and his doubts. The hero's spirit flashed up instantly. "Doubts, 
doubts!" he exclaimed ; "good God, man, the war's going to be too short to 
have such a chance twice. You ought to have sunk the Englishman. You 
were not sent to doubt, but to fight." A timid, procrastinating politician may 
not understand this, but Decatur was right. The great men of the earth have 
an instinct in affairs above their fellow-men, which enables them to preserve a 
perfect view of a scene that is constantly changing, and to seize the propitious 
moment which is forever passed before it is perceived by the common eye. 

Mr. Tilden betrayed the Democracy in the hour of its triumph. A flavor 
of Cipher Dispatches was clinging to his garments, and he skulked in holes and 
dark places when of all men in the world the people were looking for their 
chosen leader. Mr. Tilden left the matter to his agents, Pelton, Marble, and 
Smith Weed. How different his conduct was when the hour for action 
arrived from what it had been when a Committee of the St. Louis Convention 
came to notify him of his nomination. Then he made a high-sounding 
speech, and among other things said : 

"I, therefore, if your choice should be ratified by the people at the elec- 
tion, should enter upon the great duties which would fall upon me, not as a 
holiday recreation, but very much in that spirit of consecration in which the 
soldier enters battle." 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


When the time came to redeem that boast, the self-consecrated soldier was 
paralyzed with fear, and capitulated at the sound of the first gun. The Demo- 
cratic party was placed in an attitude of opprobrium before the world as humi- 
liating as it was undeserved. But after the demoralization into which Mr. 
Tilden had been thrown by the crisis had passed away, and his nervous pros- 
tration was so far relieved by the subsidence of its cause as to enable him once 
more to find his voice, thiB Ancient Pistol began to whisper forth something 
about the " great fraud," and to declare' that it never should be condoned, 
never, never. 

Since the monumental infamy of the Cipher Dispatches was unearthed, 
the Democratic party of the city of New York, which was never favorably dis- 
posed to Mr. Tilden, has been unalterably opposed to his renomination. It 
did not hesitate to make known its detestation of the man and his methods 
after that exposure. By recourse to a system of bribery and corruption, 
happily without other example in our history and destructive to the national 
morality, Mr. Tilden had impaired the prestige of the Democratic party, which 
was robbed of the Presidential office through his own imbecile cowardice an.d 
the co-operative frauds of the Republican party. To support such a man 
again would render those supporting him accessories after the fact to a crime 
so mean that it concealed itself in ciphers, and so enormous that the corruption 
of Verres, the venality of Robert Walpole, and the vulgar rascality of the Ring 
depredators in New York pale into insignificance in comparison with it. All of 
these historical delinquents openly traded on the immorality of their fellow 
men. Mr. Tilden burst on the world as a preordained reformer, and hired 
others to cheat for him while himself masquerading as an apostle of purity. 

I think it was Mr. Manton Marble who declared in a letter of the "ark and 
Bhechinah " order, which appeared in The New York Herald during the early 
part of 1878, that the future belonged to Mr. Tilden. Mr. Marble's Florida 
" danger signals " had not yet been found out. When pusillanimity becomes a 
virtue Mr. Tilden perhaps may have a future. But the American people have 
had quite enough of the self-consecrated soldier. The future belongs to no 
man in this country. That was proved on a memorable occasion thirty- three 
years ago. 

In the Presidential compaign of 1844, James K. Polk and Henry Clay were 
the rival standard bearers of the Democratic and Whig parties. The contest 
was a desperate one. Young men who had just reached their majority, and old 
men past ninety, flocked to the polls with the great body of the citizens. The 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


largest vote ever polled up to that time was given. Lamartiiie's saving that 
u politics are in the blood" was fully verified. The Whigs, who had carried 
the country by storm in 1840, were so confident of victory that great meetings 
were called in the chief cities of the Union on the night of the election, to 
celebrate the triumph of Mr. Clay as soon as tidings should come in to confirm 
the sanguine hopes of his party. 

Never was there such a revulsion as the news caused when it was an- 
nounced that James E. Polk had carried the day and Harry of the West was 
defeated. Daniel Webster was at Faneuil Hall to address a monster meeting 
of enthusiastic Whigs. He had stumped the State of Pennsylvania for Clay, 
and had only a few days before returned from the exciting campaign, filled 
with high hopes. He spoke just after the astounding news had been received 
of Clay's defeat, and, although he made a grand appeal to his dispirited friends 
not to lose heart, and declared "though the field be lost, all is not lost," it re- 
quired all the power even of a Webster to infuse the slightest spirit into the 
stunned and dejected Whigs. 

But the followers of Mr. Clay did not give up the struggle. They insisted, 
especially in the States of New York and Louisiana, that he had carried both 
States — New York alone was sufficient to secure his election, — that the returns 
had been tampered with, and the verdict of the people reversed. Specific 
charges of fraud were preferred in the case of St. Lawrence County and in that 
of Jefferson Couoty, New York, and also in that of the district or parish of 
Plaquemines, Louisiana. Less specific but persistent allegations that frauds had 
been committed in New York city were also made by the defeated Whigs. " That 
these frauds were stupendous is now well known," says Nathan Sargent in the 
second volume of his " Public Men and Events." Resistance was talked of by 
the Hotspurs of the Whig party, and Horace Greeley thundered through the 
columns of the Tribune that a rigid investigation should be made, and that, if 
made, it would show Henry Clay had been counted out by fraud. The Demo- 
crats repelled these charges with indignation, but the Whigs reiterated them 
with greater vehemence. William D. Lewis, of Philadelphia, wrote to Mr. 
Clay on the 30th of November, and said: "The glorious and beneficial result 
has been preveuted through wicked, unprincipled men, by frauds on the elec- 
tive franchise as monstrous as they are unprecedented." 

Sargent S. Prentiss, the famous Whig orator, on the 15th of December, 
wrote as follows: " The Whig party is really stronger now than it has been 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


since the time of Washington. We have been beaten by the basest frauds and 

Charles Francis Adams has spoken in more recent days of " fraud first tri- 
umphant in American history " in 1876, but his father took a different view of 
the matter, for .in a letter to Mr. Clay, dated Washington, Jan. 4, 1845, John 
Qnincy Adams said: "The unexpected and inauspicious issue of the recent 
Presidential election has been on many accounts painful to me ; on none more 
or so much so as on the dark shade which it has cast upon tour prospects of fu- 
turity. But the glaring frauds by which the election was consummated afford 
a sad presentiment of what must be expected hereafter." Chief- Justice Am- 
brose Spencer of New York, in a letter to Mr. Clay, written from Albany, Nov. 
21, 1844, summed up what he considered to be the causes of the defeat, and said : 
" Another cause was the utter mendacity, frauds and villainies of Locofocoism. 
This untoward event has produced universal gloom and has shaken public con- 
fidence." John R. Thompson wrote to Mr. Clay in the following strain : 

University op Virginia, April 8, 1845. 
* * * "I cannot tell you, sir, the sense of desolation and crushed 
hopes with which the painful intelligence of your defeat was received. Frauds 
the most infamous in the annals of the elective franchise stifled the voice of 
the people, and national disgrace was effected by a motley party of Doverites 
and Agrarians, Mormons and Repudiators, the voters of Plaquemine and the 
outlaws of the Empire Club." 

From one end of the land to the other these charges were repeated by 
Whig politicians, Whig statesmen, and Whig editors. I believe the charges 
were groundless, and that President Polk was fairly elected. Yet it is per- 
fectly evident on an examination of the history of those times, that the 
whole Whig party of the United States honestly thought Clay was de- 
frauded out of the Presidency in 1844, and that the returns in the parish of 
Plaquemines, Louisiana, and in the counties of Jefferson and St. Lawrence, 
New York, and in the city of New York, were severally manipulated or 
u bulldozed," to use a modem expression, in order to effect his defeat. 
Horace Greeley led off with the " fraud cry," and kept it up with fierce and ir- 
resistible eloquence in his paper during the ensuing four years. The future 
belongs to Henry Clay, he declared, and the next National Convention of 
the Whig party will renominate the old ticket by acclamation. The Whig 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


press throughout the Union echoed the sentiments of Mr. Greeley, and pre- 
dicted that the future belonged to Clay and FrelingJinysen. Mr. Manton Mar- 
ble could scarcely have been posted in American political history when he de- 
clared in the letter he wrote to the editor of the New York Herald, about the 
close of 1877 or beginning of 1878, that the future belongs to Mr. Tildeu. 

But the country has seen a more distinguished gentleman than Marble, Mr. 
Charles Francis Adams, fly in the face of his own father's assertion when he 
said that fraud was first triumphant in our history in the Presidential election 
of 1876. John Quincy Adaintj had said, thirty odd years before, it was by 
" glaring frauds " that the election of 1844 was consummated. High-sounding 
pragmatic assertions should not be made until the whole field has been surveyed, 
and positive knowledge of the entire subject is acquired. I commend these 
gentlemen to a closer study of American history. For the four years, from 
1844 to 1848, the Whig press and leaders expended an enormous amount of 
wrath in denouncing the Democratic party on account of the alleged frauds 
whereby the illustrious Mill-Boy of the Slashes had been deprived of the Pres- 
idential office. His renomination alone, declared these gentlemen, will satisfy 
the country. His overwhelming election would follow as an inevitable con- 

When we look back at the history and the men of those times it is found that 
there was a great deal in Henry Clay to justify this devotion of his followers, 
and to render their predictions of his renomination in 1848 very likely to be 
fulfilled. He was the idol of millions, and never was man more worthy of 
popular love. "The life of Mr. Clay," said Mr. Breckinridge in the House of 
Representatives about the time of Clay's death, '* is a striking example of the 
abiding fame which surely awaits the direct and candid statesman. The entire 
absence of equivocation or disguise in all his acts was his master-key to the 
popular heart. He never paltered in a double sense. The country never was 
in doubt as to his opinions or his purposes. In all the contests of his time his 
position on great public questions was as clear as the sun in a cloudless sky." 

Can it be imagined any one will speak in this way of Mr. Tilden ? 
What a source of pride it would be to Democrats at this day if they could bor- 
row Mr. Breckinridge's just tribute to Henry Clay, and truthfully apply it to 
Mr. Tilden. But, unfortunately, it would be the refinement of satire to describe 
him as the " direct and candid statesman." What an inestimable advantage 
it might prove to the Democratic party if any one could stand up in the face 
of an approving world and declare that the " absence of equivocation or dis- 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


guise " in Samuel J. Tilden " was his master-key to the popular heart : " that 
he never paltered in a double sense," or that tl his position on public questions 
was as clear as the sun in a cloudless sky." 

A distinguished sojourner in Washington, who described himself as a 
" temporary observer" of events which were transpiring at the Federal Capi- 
tal during the memorable winter of 1876-77, thus expressed himself in the New 
York Herald of Feb. 22, 1877 : 

"Men found themselves compelled to believe that, if not Mr. Tilden, yet 
men very near his person, had been engaged in a disgusting intrigue. The 
whole course of the Oregon investigation covered Mr. Tilden's reputation with 
slime, yet he never seemed to see it. Democrats saw with indignant shame 
Tilden's nephew, Col. Pelton, refusing to auswer proper questions, and increas- 
ing the suspicion of many by his vulgar mysteries, and witness after witness 
refusing to answer, until at last the deciphered telegrams showed up the case 
and filled every decent Democrat with disgust. The young men who came 
here of late as his personal representatives and familiars had the art to make 
themselves cordially disliked by the wiser men of the party here by their in- 
terference and a kind of * bumptiousness ' which was supposed to represent 
their master's tone and ideas. * * * What strikes me is that the ' tone,' 
the moral standard, so to speak, of the Democratic party here, is different 
from and much higher than Mr. Tilden's, or that of the people who seem most 
directly and closely to represent him. The Democratic party has in both 
Houses at this time a considerable number of men whom it is not flattery to 
call statesmen — men of high principle, and a nice sense of honor, of patriotic 
desires lor the country's good ; men above all trickery, as well as above mere 
self-seeking. The atmosphere in which they live is clean and clear. I do not 
wish to be offensive to Mr. Tilden or his personal surroundings ; but it has 
seemed to me that he and they live on a lower plane. When one comes among 
them he is impressed— I can hardly tell how or why — with a feeling that here 
are secrets and cipher dispatches and mysteries which, perhaps, an honorable 
man would rather know nothing about." 

I may remark that this was written before the investigation by a Demo- 
cratic Congressional Committee had yet taken place of the Cipher Dispatches, 
and wholesale attempts in South Carolina and Florida at bribery and corrup- 
tion by Smith Weed, Manton Marble, Col. Pelton, C. F. MacLean and others 
among Mr. Tilden's familiars. All this was not yet dreamed of by the Ameri- 
can people. 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


"The entire absence of equivocation or disguise in all his acts," said 
Breckinridge of Henry Clay, " was his master-key to the popular heart." The 
Whigs with their " defrauded " candidate of 1844 undoubtedly had the advan- 
tage 'over the Democrats with their " defrauded " candidate of 1876. For four 
years the Mill-Boy of the Slashes and his wrongs formed the burden of the 
Whig battle cry in their newspapers, in their political meetings and State 
Conventions, and on the floor of Congress. Horace Greeley was grand in his 
wrath, and Mr. Dana, who has taken up the same cry and ventilates Mr. Til- 
den's grievance in our times, would do well to read up and model himself on 
the philippics which his old chief, the Philosopher of the White Hat, used to 
hurl forth on behalf of the Whig claimant from 1844 to 1848. Mr. Dana will 
find the detonation of the Whig Jupiter somewhat of an improvement on his 
own ; perhaps a difference in the claimants accounts for it. Licet nobis magna 
componere paj"vi8. In the "Homes of American Statesmen," here is the way 
Mr. Greeley described Ashland, the home of Clay : 

"That house, that lawn, with the ample and fertile farm stretching a 
mile or more in the distance behind them, are hallowed to the hearts of his 
countrymen by the fact that here lived and loved, enjoyed and suffered, as- 
pired and endured, the orator, the patriot, the statesman, the illustrious, the 
gifted, the fiercely slandered, the fondly idolized Henry Clay." 

Well, what does history tell us was the grand climacteric of Mr. Clay's 
grievance ? The Whigs having declared that the future belonged to the Mill- 
Boy of the Slashes, of course they nominated him over again at their next 
National Convention, and bore him triumphantly into the White House ? 
He had been kept out, said John Quincy Adams, by " glaring frauds" in 1844* 
Surely, Messieurs Whigs, you do not mean to " condone the great fraud" in 
1848 ? By no means. The Whig Convention met at Philadephia in the month 
of June. Clay had ninety-seven of the delegates, but that was not 
nearly enough to nominate him. An exciting scene was witnessed in the Con- 
vention. The friends of the great orator declared that Clay had led the party, 
vitalized it and made it great ; that he had been elected President of the 
United States four years before, and that by fraud he had been counted out of 
his seat. " Do you mean to betray Henry Clay in this the house of his friends, 
and in this the hour for his rightful vindication ? " 

In answer to these fierce appeals, it was said that no man's personal wrongs 
can bind a party or, can be regarded as entailing political obligations. The 
wrongs complained of, said the opponents of Clay, and the frauds by which 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


we lost the last Presidential election, were not practised against the man, 
were not leveled at Henry Clay, bnt against the Whig party and the whole 
people. They wonld have taken place all the same whether Clay, or Corwin, 
or Webster, or any other man had been the candidate. The candidate was a 
mere accident in the infliction of the wrong.. The blow was aimed at the 
Whig party, and the Whig party — the real sufferer— must be allowed to redress 
the wrong in its own way. Having been as great a wrong to every other Whig 
in the United States as to the candidate, every other Whig must be given an 
equal voice with him in deciding by what means and with what candidate 
that wrong shall be redressed. Personal considerations must not be permitted 
to trammel or embarrass the great question, for they are but formal and in- 
cidental, and not in any sense an essential part of the grievance. To admit 
the opposite view would be to introduce claimants, the offspring of European 
despotism, into the politics of free America. To recognize the principle that 
any man has a lien on the Presidency is but another mode for establishing the 
dynastic principle in a Constitutional, Democratic Government. No War of 
the Roses can be tolerated here. 

And the friends of Mr. Clay could not answer this argument. The hope- 
less struggle was continued for a few hours longer, and then the balloting was 
commenced. On the first ballot Taylor received 111 votes; Clay, 97, Scott, 43; 
Webster, 22. Necessary for a choice, 171. On the fourth ballot 65 of the Clay 
men went over in a body to Taylor, and he was nominated, the vote standing 
Taylor, 171 ; Clay, 32; Scott, 63; Webster, 13. 

After the defeat of Henry Clay, the idol of his party, the claimant with a 
grievance, in which grievance all the Whigs had expressed for four years their 
noisy sympathy, it seems to me that any one who reflects must conclude that 
what the illustrious Mill-Boy of the Slashes could not accomplish, Samuel J. 
Tilden, the syndicate lawyer of Wall street will not be likely to secure. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 



u The defeat of Mr. Wright in the fall of 1846," says Mr. Tilden's author- 
ized biographer, " and the coolness which had grown up between the friends 
of President Polk and the friends of the late President Van Bureo, resulted, 
fortunately for Mr. Tilden, if not for the country, in withdrawing his attention 
from politics and concentrating it upon his profession. * * Mr. Tilden now 
gave himself up to his profession. * * He has associated his name iru perish- 
ably with some of the most remarkable forensic struggles of our time." 
—{Cook's Life of Tilden, pp. 55-66.) The words "if not for the country" in 
the above paragraph are open to very grave doubt, but let that pass. 

Did not the biographer have a prompter at his elbow when he thus un- 
ceremoniously hurried Mr. Tilden out of politics in 1846, and kept him out for 
the succeeding twenty years Y I think so. It did not suit his hero to take the 
public into his confidence after 1846. But the truth of history cannot be sup- 
pressed by a campaign romance, no matter how ingeniously related. Mr. Til- 
den never had been so active in politics at any prior time as he became in 
1848, two years after his biographer dismisses him out of politics to the law. 
Moreover the gentleman is not a great lawyer at all, but only a crafty and un- 
scrupulous railroad attorney, as I will presently show. He knows more about 
first and second mortgages and the construction or wrecking process than he 
does about the Rule in Shelley's Case, and the difference between all executory 
devise and a contingent remainder. 

I propose to prove in the present letter that this man on account of 
his treachery became an outcast from the Democratic party, and having ship- 
wrecked his political fortunes by bolting at the National Democratic Conven- 
tion of Baltimore in 1848, his retirement to private life was not voluntary but 
enforced, and attended with the greatest discredit to himself. For twenty 
years after his treason to Cass and Butler, Mr. Tilden was never trusted and 
had no place in Democratic councils. He got back at last when Tweed was in 
power, for although stranded on the beach as a political mariner he had made 
in the meantime a great deal of money in railroad jobs and speculations, and 
when the Ring held sway he regained his lost position in politics by means of 
his mouey. As I am relating facts and not inventing fictions, a brief back- 
ward glance into political history is necessary. 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


At the close of the second term of James Monroe in 1824 the " era of good 
feeling " which theretofore had prevailed began to disappear and soon passed 
away. The impartial historian will ascribe the chief blame to the old Albany 
Regency for the sectional animosities which followed. The seeds of the war 
between the North and the South were then being sowed. Silas Wright was 
rising into power and place, and being a man of strong practical sense and 
downright leadership he steadied and directed the Machiavellian genius of 
Martin Van Buren. As long as Wright lived his beneficial influence over the 
restless *' Little Magician " was never entirely lost. He could not prevent the 
intrigue of 1824 whereby Van Buren, then a strong Crawford man and a sleep- 
less enemy of Jackson, split the New York Democrary into a Crawford faction 
and a Jackson faction, which eventuated in a failure to elect the President by 
the people, and the transfer of the contest to the House of Representatives. 
There both Jackson and Crawford were defeated by what John Randolph with 
unjustifiable asperity called a " union between the Puritan and the black- 
leg/' and John Quincy Adams was chosen President. As soon as Van Buren 
began to discover there was more magic in the name of Jackson than in that 
of Crawford, he felt it was his privilege as a professional magician to throw 
over the latter, and join in the chorus to Old Hickory. He became a strong 
Jackson man. He was nominated and elected Governor of New York on a 
Jackson ticket. When the hero became President he appointed Van Buren to 
the head of his Cabinet. Then for the first time (1829) was transferred to 
Washington that spirit of intrigue which had so long been the curse of New 
York politics. Van Buren, who originally had opposed the war of 1812, a 
Southern measure, now began to veer around to the South and to talk ardently 
in season and out of season of Southern rights. He became what John Ran- 
dolph and John C. Calhoun called a "Northern man with Southern principles," 
and Arthur Tappan and John Quincy Adams with more bluntness nicknamed 
a " doughface." Be that as it may, the South built up the fortunes of Martin 
Van Buren and made him President. His career was not yet over. He put 
away money, got rich, and didn't draw his salary, as the story runs, until the 
end of his term, and then went to the Treasury with a cart and took away his 
hundred thousand dollars in gold to Einderhook. There he sat down in Dutch 
contentment, and smoked his pipe under his own vine and fig-tree ; for he was 
rich and great and had trod all the paths of glory, thanks to Peggy O'Neil and 
Andrew Jackson and the generous South, and who had a better right to smoke 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


his great Knickerbocker in peace and wax fat and jolly, than the " Northern 
man with Southern principles P" 

It is a melancholy fact that Regency intrigues dominated the first Cabi- 
net of Jackson. Van Buren the " Little Magician " had brought his Albany 
arts along with him. Talk about wire-pulling and log-rolling, and single and 
double cuts, and the whole legerdemain of politics, ah ! then they flourished 
with a vengeance. Tricks were trumps, and Bellona (Mrs. Eaton) and Van 
Buren were the Court favorites. GeneralJaokson drew the line at Bellona, 
and 8 wore a valiant oath that anybody who was not willing to hurrah for her, 
should not be allowed to hurrah for Jackson. The Little Magician, fomenter 
of Cabinet strife and scandal, was a widower and enjoyed the fun like Harle- 
quin. All this occurred in the administration circles of a Democratic Presi- 
dent famous for his republican simplicity, and not in the French Court of 
LouisXV., infamous for its Pompadours and debauchees. The inimitable side- 
splitting cartoons of Major Jack Downing were drawn to the life. That scene 
at the Dance, after Jackson and his fair partner had romped themselves down 
and the worn-out hero had gone to bed, when little Mattie and two or three 
others went on tip-toe to his sleeping room and got the " Ginral's" clothes, was 
one hardly inferior to Hogarth. Each Cabinet member tried on the clothes, 
hat and all, but Little Mattie, who was lost in them, insisted that they fitted 
him the best, while the coat-tails went trailing a yard or more along the floor, 
and the hat covered his whole face and neck, and rested well down on his 
shoulders. Tom Nast has never equalled that stroke. 

But, whether the " Ginral's" clothes fitted him or not Mattie became Pres- 
ident. Then with his intrigues and pipe-laying and rowing one way and look- 
ing the other, he broke up the Democratic party into half a dozen factions. 
What Jackson had built up, Van Buren pulled down. Calhoun was right af^er 
all when he said in the Senate just before Jackson's retirement, that if any one 
expected the Court nominee to play the role of Jackson, he would be wofully 
disappointed. Jackson, he said, had courage — firmness, and was bold, war- 
like and audacious. He had terminated the war gloriously at New Orleans. 
Van Buren had none of these recommendations. " He is not of the race of the 
lion or the tiger," exclaimed the illustrious Senator from South Carolina ; " he 
belongs to a lower order — the fox and the weasel." 

The full power of Van Buren's genius for mischief was not felt until the 
next Presidential election. Then it came like a whirlwind when " Maine went 
hell-bent for Governor Kent," and the victory of " Tippecanoe and Tyler too" 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


sent Little Mattie, a wiser if not a better man, back to the shades of Kinder- 
hook. It now began to dawn on him that the Democratic party had quite 
made np its mind to leave him at home in peaceful retirement for the remain- 
der of his days. The statesmen of the party felt they could not stand another 
four years of Van Buren without submitting to the inevitable ruin of the Demo- 
cracy. Then Mattie flew out from his retreat, and sent Benjamin F. Butler 
here, and Prince John there, and Samuel J. Tilden his little New Lebanon pro- 
tege thitherward, to pull the wires and skirmish up and down and disintegrate 
the Democratic party in the Empire State. How well they accomplished the 
work let their bolt at Baltimore in 1848 attest ; let Tilden's Soft-shell or disunion 
candidacy and overwhelming defeat for Attorney-General of New York in 1855 
eloquently attest it. Mr. Tilden has ever proved himself a bolter and back- 
slider. He was one of the Secret Circular men in 1844 who tried so hard to de- 
feat Polk. He openly opposed Cass in 1848. He was secretly opposed to 
Pierce and gave him a halting half-hearted support in 1852. In 1856 he sym- 
pathized with Fremont who carried the State of New York, and he skulked in 
Wall street while Democrats were battling for Buchanan. In 1860 he wrote a 
Van Burenish letter to Judge Kent, in which he declared the bolt of 1848 was 
a "mere protest," and that his own " personal wish " at that time had been 
against it, an assertion which I shall prove before I close this letter to be one of 
the most reckless and unmitigated misstatements ever uttered by any human be- 
ing in the world. And I shall prove this not only by the two chief witnesses, 
Van Buren (1) and Adams (2), the Free Soil candidates in 1848 for President 
and Vice-President, and by Daniel Webster and Thomas H.Benton (3), but 
I shall prove it out of the mouth of Samuel J. Tilden himself. The extinction 
of African slavery is one of the greatest blessings not only to the negro race 
but to the white race on this continent which Providence has ever vouchsafed 
to us. But in making up the record for history, it is important that only the 
truth be told, and that the fictions and inventions of trading politicians be exposed 
, and refuted. Now notwithstanding the Kent letter, its author was in Washing- 
ton during the war consorting at the War Department with his old crony of 
Van Buren times Simon Cameron, and afterwards with Edwin M. Stanton. 
The medicine house of the Tildens at New Lebanon soon had fat contracts, and 
Cameron and Stanton each was the recipient of Samuel J. Tilden's most 
courteous attentions. On one occasion the rival army contractors set a Con- 
gressional Committee on the track of a certain "Fluid Extract of Coffee" 
furnished by the Tilden's, and old Simon Cameron and old Samuel J. Tilden 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


combined, had as much as they could do to prevent the order for the Coffee 
from being cancelled and the whole immense lot from being thrown back upon 
the hands of the Tildens. It is safe to assume that this Coffee was not exactly 
Maracaibo or a prime article of Old Government Java. I forbear to tell how 
the Tildens worked that Coffee through. Professor Henry of the Smithsonian 
Institute is now dead, and I think Dr. Gross of Philadelphia is also dead. If 
alive they wonld enjoy a quiet laugh at this reminiscence. But Simon Cameron 
is still here, and if ever he sees these pages he will certainly recall the Tilden 

I have made three statements in this letter which I shall now proceed to 
establish by historical proof. 

1st. Samuel J. Tilden is not a great lawyer but merely a railroad attorney. 
Here is what Mr. John McKeon, a lawyer of distinction at the New York bar, 
said on this subject in 1876. I quote from a paper now in my possession pre- 
pared by Mr. McKeon. " It has been said by one of Mr. Tilden's biographers 
that his income from his law business was never less than $25,000 and reached 
up to $50,000 per annum, Was this made from legitimate law business f Mr. 
Tilden has had no practice at the New York bar. He has devoted himself to 
manipulating railroad corporations. His supporters are men engaged in the 
same business. He is the representative of the monoply system which has as- 
sumed such gigantic proportions within the past quarter of a century. He re- 
presents fully ' the growing spirit of monopolies, a spirit which stops at nothing 
in order to accomplish its purposes. It uses money in order to corrupt individ- 
uals, to corrupt legislators and to open a pathway to the polls.' Mr. Tilden has 
devoted his life to the promotion of the interests of incorporated associated wealth . 
His time and talents have for years been given exclusively to advancing the in- 
terests of these cormorant associations. He h as been their attorney. He has been 
their lobby agen t and adviser before the Legislatures of the Western, North West- 
ern, and South Western States. He has received the fees of Jim Fisk for the 
Erie Road at the rate of $10,000 for a retainer. This was not paid him for his. 
legal attainments, but because he had political influence and at that time he 
found it convenient and serviceable to co-operate with Tweed and Company." 
[Let me suspend my quotation from Mr. McKeon's statement for a moment,simply 
to add the following extract in corroboration of -it taken from New York 
Assembly, Document No. 98 for 1873. The item in the Legislative Document 
was copied from the books of the Erie Railroad. Here it is : " Samuel J. 
Tilden, January to February, 1869 — Legal Services — $20,000." It is but just to 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


add that Mr. Tilden afterwards declared he had only received $10,000 of this 
money, for services during February 1869. ] Mr. McKeon continues as follows : 
" Last February (1876) an action was commenced against Tilden and others 
by the St. Louis, Alton and Terre Haute Railroad Company charging improper 
conversion by Tilden and his associates of hundreds of thousands of dollars 
represented by bonds which got into Tilden's and his associates' possession. 
Although he was served with process four months since no answer has yet been 
put in (June 1876) by Tilden." [Again let me interrupt Mr. McKeon's narrative 
in order to corroborate it. For years Mr. Tilden denied he owed the St. Louis, 
Alton and Terre Haute Company the money which that Company charged him 
with having fraudulently converted to his own use. The claim amounted to 
$400,000. Having with three others held this property for many years with- 
out expressing any intention of returning it to its rightful owners, the latter 
determined to proceed against Tilden and the three others for $1,000,000 on the 
grounds that the principal and increase of said property during the long period 
it had been withheld would fairly amount to that enormous sum. The Company 
notified Tilden and his associates that if the $400,000 was not paid by them on 
or before the 31st of December 1879, the $1,000,000 suit would be commenced. 
On the last day of grace Mr. Tilden swallowed all his denials of the past and 
came forward with his associates and restored to the Company its $400,000, 
Mr. Tilden himself paying $100,000 of the same. The final decree of Judge 
Blatchford reciting the facts of payment and dismissal of the suit in consider- 
ation thereof, was filed on the 30th of January, 1880, in the Clerk's office of 
the United States Circuit Court for the Southern District i>f New York, where 
it may be seen by any one who wishes to learn how Mr. Tilden and his asso- 
ciates saved $600,000 by making restitution of $400,000.] 

Mr. McKeon further says : " To show that Mr. Tilden is no lawyer, I refer 
to the undoubted fact, that with the exception of the case of Flagg against 
Giles, which involved the question of fact as to false counting of ballots, he 
lias tried but two or three cases before a jury in oyer 40 years practice. As 
Corporation Attorney of the City of New York about 34 years ago he prose- 
cuted parties for some penalties and was beaten, although he had all the law 
and the facts on his side. He never had another case until Mr. O'Conor as- 
sociated him in the Flagg case. In the hundreds of volumes of Law Reports 
of the State of New York, Mr. Tilden's name does not appear but twice ; once 
in the case of Mrs. Cunningham before the Surrogate of New York, when he 
made an argument on the facts of eighteen pages, and in which not a single au- 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


ibority was cited from any law book. The other case was in the Court of Ap- 
peals against the Ring, when he and Mr. O'Conor failed in convincing that 
tribunal. Tilden's legal reputation amounts to nothing." 

I do not think it necessary to add another word to the statement of Mr. 
McKeon, a gentleman who is the senior of Mr. Tilden, and has spent a life-time 
in the practice of law in New York. 

2d. Mr. Tilden has one rule from which he has never been known to 
depart, he has no friendships and works always for himself. A selfish man 
without loyalty to his own convictions sometimes may cover up that defect to a 
certain extent by loyalty to his personal followers. But Mr. Tilden's ethics are 
not of this kind. Life is a game of chess with him, and he plays his pieces on 
the cynical theory that every man has his price. I do not think there is a single 
person in the United States who follows his fortunes out of love for the man. 
There is one thing, however, in which he does believe ; he has sublime faith in 
printer's ink. As an astute manipulator of the newspaper and political tract 
it may be doubted whether Van Buren himself was Tilden's equal. 

Who, for example beyond the limits of New York really knows anything 
about the true relations between Tilden and Tweed at the time the latter was in 
power Y Every one has somehow come to suppose the former was a fierce 
enemy of the latter in those evil days. In point of fact, this is but one of the 
many delusions Tilden has palmed off on the public at large through the 
necromancy of printer's ink. An electioneering circular of a fraudulent 
nature bearing the signature of S. J. Tilden, was sent out through the State 
of New York by the Ring men in November, 1868. Horace Greeley addressed 
Tilden a letter on the 20th of October, 1869, (see the Tribune), in which he 
spoke thus plainly : " You were at least a passive accomplice in the giant 
frauds of last November. * ** On the principle that the ' receiver is as bad 
as the thief,' you are as deeply implicated in them to-day as though your name 
were Tweed, O'Brien or Oakey Hall." In the paper written by Mr. John 
McKeon, from which I have before quoted, that gentleman further uses these 
words : " Mr. Tilden's claim for a reformer is answered by stating that he was 
the friend and supporter of Tweed and Company, so long as it was to his 
advantage, and he never attacked the Ring until it had received a deadly 
blow from other hands than those of himself." 

Let any one read the rigid cross-examination to which Mr. David Dudley 
Field in 1876 subjected Mr. Tilden at the time of the trial of the Tweed six 
million suit, if he has any doubt of the fact that friendly and intimate rela- 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


tions existed between the two men dnring the supremacy of the Ring. Tilden's . 
letters to Tweed of a most friendly character, and even Tweed's $5,000 checks, 
one or more in favor of Chairman Tilden, were fished out of the muddy waters of 
that mysterious intimacy, and acknowledged by Tilden when the screws of the 
celebrated cross-examiner were tightened upon him. Yet when the poor, 
wretched Tweed lay helpless, hopeless and dying in prison, Mr. Tilden in order 
to protect some of the most guilty members of the King from exposure who 
had become Tilden men, prevented Attorney General Fairchild from accepting 
Tweed's confession whereby millions of dollars might have been saved to the 
City of New York. Charles O'Conor who had really crushed the Ring favored 
the acceptance of this confession. But it would have interfered with Mr. 
Tilden's political schemes, and so he pursued Tweed like a sleuth-hound to the 
end. A few moments before his death, Tweed feebly turned his head on the 
pillow and said with a sad smile to the Under-Sheriff who sat near his bed : " I 
hope Mr. Tilden is satisfied, he has killed me at last." 

But as I mean to verify my facts I here add a literal transcript of Tilden's 
testimony on cross-examination in the Tweed suit above referred to, which I 
have taken from vol. 2 of the official stenographer's report of the trial. Let 
the reader remember that he was under oath when he testified to the following 
tell-tale facts : 

Cross-Examination qf Tilden by Field in the Six Million Suit: 

Q. "When did your acquaintance with Mr. Tweed begin t 

A. I really can't tell. I knew him slightly sometime while he was Street 

Q. From that time did your acquaintance with him increase f 

A. Perhaps so. 

Q. How, in fact f 

A. I should think I knew him rather more afterwards than I did the first 
year or two of my acquaintance with him. I never knew him much. 

Q. Your relations were not at all close then f 

A. No; never. 

Q. They were rather distant I suppose t 

A. Well, they were reserved. 

Q. During the period of his power I think you said he was not a member 
of the Democratic National Committee t 

Digitized by CjOOQIC 


A. Never, I think. 

Q. Look at that letter, and tell me on what occasion it was written (pro- 
ducing a paper to the witness). 

Mr. Carter. Is it an original letter f 

Mr. Field. An original letter from Mr. Tilden to Mr. Tweed asking him to 
attend the National Democratic Committee or Convention. 

The Witness. It does not ask him to do anything of the kind. 

Q. We will see what it is, at all events. 

A. The best way to ascertain what it is is to read. 

Counsel reads the letter in evidence in the words following : 

"My Dear Sir — The National Committee meet at the Metropolitan Hotel 
in Washington on the 25th of February at 12 o'clock. - 

Yours, &c, 

" Hon. William M. Tweed." 

Q. What is the word there before the date Y 

A. Saturday morning. I think February 15th, 1868. 

Q. Will you state for what purpose if he was not a member of that Com- - 
niittee you wrote him that note f 

A. I remember Mr. Belmont, who was President of the National Committee, 
pressed me very strongly to go on there in 1868, to attend the meeting on the 
8th of January and I did it. I presume Mr. Tweed must have asked me to 
send him word when that meeting would take place or something of that sort, 
and I did it. I have no recollection now. 

Q Look at that note, also, and see if it is a note you wrote to him ? (pro- 
ducing a paper to the witness.) 

A. That appears to be my handwriting. 

Q. I will read it. 

Defendant's counsel reads the letter in evidence in the words following: 

"Gramercy Park, 

August 12, 

11 A.M. 1866. 
" My Dear Sir— I decided to go to Philadelphia in the morning, and shall 
not be able to see you before I leave. Mr. Richmond is at the St. Nicholas, 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


somewhat ill. If well enough he will come on the 2 P.M. train. Whether he 
is there to-day or not, I hope you will not fail to be in Philadelphia. 

Very truly, your friend, 

" Hon. Wm. M. Tweed." 

Q. That you perceive is in 1866, August 12th, so at that time you must 
have, been in relations with him ; at all events that would justify such a corre- 
spondence. While I am about it, I will show you another letter, and ask if 
that is one you wrote to him f (producing another paper to witness.) 

A. That is my handwriting. 

The letter is shown to the plaintiff's counsel, after which it is read by de- 
fendant's counsel in the words following: 

" Hon. W. M. Tweed : * ' 

" My Dear Sir— I beg to present to your attention, the case of Mr. Samuel 
Allen, a very old friend of ours, who is in great need of a small appointment 
under your department, for which he has applied. He would be content with 
something, for a time, of not a very high rank. You know him so well that I 
need add nothing. He used to be a very efficient and useful worker, and is an 
entirely reliable man, and I should be personally glad if you could help him. 

" Truly Yours, 

" S. J. TILDEN." 

Q. Were you chairman of the Democratic State Committee for a long 
period Y 

A. I became chairman in 1866. 

Q. And continued so up to what time Y 

A. Up to 1874. 

Q. During that time was Mr. Tweed frequently consulted, and applied to 
for contributions to the Committee f 

A. Not very much. 

Q. Did he make large contributions to that committee while you were at 
its head Y 

A. He did not. 

Q. Did he ever make any Y 

A. I suppose he made some. 

Q. Did he make any through you Y 

A. Very little, if at all. 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


Q. Any — do you remember any ? 

A. I do not remember. I remember the general fact. I should think if 
during the whole period, he would make au account to the Committe, it would 
be found that he had made more bills against it than contributions to it. 

Q. He made more bills against it than contributions to itf 

A. Mr. T?weed did not get to be a rich man until quite lately. 

Q. I will come to that by and by. Is that one of the checks that passed 
through your hands at that time Y (producing a check to the witness.) 

A. That is a check in 1868. 

Q. Is it a check that passed through your hands at that time ? 

A. It appears so. 

Q. Was there another check of the same amount Y 

A. I do not remember. 

Q. Will you not say whether there was another check? 

A. I do not think there was. 

The check is offered in evidence, and is marked defendant's exhibit, Feb- 
ruary 28, 1876 and is in the words following : 

" New York, September 8, 1868. 
" The National Broadway Bank will pay to the order of William M. Tweed, 
five thousand dollars. 

Endorsed. " Pay S. J. Tilden or order William M. Tweed. For deposit 
in the North America. S. J. TILDEN." 

Q. Will you refresh your memory and say whether or not you can recall 
the fact that he did at or about that time, give to you for the same purpose 
another check for the same amount f 

A. I cannot say, but I do not think he did." This is enough. 

3d. I will proceed now to show that Mr. Tilden is not an orthodox Demo- 
crat. I do not wish to use harsh or denunciatory language, but there is over- 
whelming evidence to prove that he made a labored attempt to pervert the truth 
of history in framing excuses for his conduct at the time of the Free Soil bolt of 
1848, when he joined the Massachusetts disunonists. In his ably written but 
disingenuous letter to Judge William Kent of October 26th, 1860, he used the 
following language : " I never held any opinion which could justify either the 
policy or the organization of the Republican party." (This was in reply to the 
Evening Post which had truthfully charged that he had once held such an 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


opinion). "If I had done so," he continues, with a propitiatory eye on the 
South, " I should not hesitate to frankly renounce so grave an error. I admit 
consistency to be a quality which inspires confidence. But I do not consider 
it so great a virtue as a fixed purpose to do right and a single modification in 
a man's opinions on one of the question which have occupied the public mind 
during the period of twenty-five years ought not to shake an established char- 
acter for consistency. But, in truth, I never adopted the doctrine of absolute and 
universal exclusion, by federal legislation, of slavery from all territories, and still 
less that of the exclusion of new slave States ; or the philosophical theories on 
which the doctrines are founded. * * The division in the Democratic party 
of this State in 1848, bears no analogy to the Republican organization of to- 
day. It would not have happened except for what was deemed to be a violation of 
the right of representation in a National Convention, and the division was the year 
after composed, while the slavery question was still unsettled. Wise or unwise, right 
or wrong, it was in substance a mere protest. It is known that my personal wish then 
was that its form should not have gone beyond its true practical character." Italics 

Horace Greeley had no sooner read the letter, from which the preceding is 
an extract, than he pierced Mr. Tilden through and through in the following 
effective manner. 

(From the New York Tribune, November 5th, 1860). 
"There have been a great many queer phenomena in the Presidential 
canvass, such for instance as the forgery of J. M. Wilson's speech in the Courier 
Des Etats Unis, and the appearance of George Briggs as the advocate of Gen. 
Ward ; but the humor of the thing wasn't perfect till Mr. Samuel J. Tilden 
printed a letter to the Hon. William Kent. * * Mr. Tilden is an aged man, 
and we wish to treat him with all decorous veneration ; but will he allow us re- 
spectfully to suggest that when he merely desires to be pathetic and impres- 
sivo, he will do well to avoid falling into the broad farce of inane and insane 
suggestion. Mr. Tilden was one of those Anti-Slavery Democrats who in 1848 
defeated and crushed Gen. Cass, because he would not go with them for the 
Wilmot proviso. 

"In life's last scene what prodigies surprise, 
Fears of the brave and follies of the wise ; 
From Marlbroughs eyes the streams of dotage flow, 
And Swift expires a driveler aud a show." 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


So Horace Greeley not only stripped the mask from the political weather- 
cock, bnt described him as " an aged man " twenty years ago. 

Let the reader keep distinctly in mind the extract I have just quoted from 
Mr. Tilden's letter to Judge Kent, and he will soon find how completely its 
statements shall he refuted, not only by others, but by Mr. Tilden himself. 
One of the efficient causes of the terrible civil war was the bolt, and its con- 
sequences, on the part of the Van Buren faction at the National Democratic 
Convention of Baltimore in 1848. Among the chief disorganizes of that day 
were Preston King, Samuel J. Tilden, Lucius Robinson, and John Van Buren. 
After their bolt, Mr. Tilden and his associates returned to New York and issued 
the following anti-democratic manifesto. It was first published in the New York 
Herald of June 7, 1848. As this extaordinary document has not seen the light 
for thirty-two years, every copy that could be obtained having been destroyed 
by its authors soon after its publication, I here reproduce it in full. It will be 
observed that Mr. Tilden then denounced the resolution requiring the New 
York delegates to pledge their support to the candidate of the National Con- 
vention as a condition precedent to their admission to seats. At the present 
day he insists upon this very same pledge with as much zeal as he formerly dis- 
played in opposing it. 


"To the Democracy of the County and State of New York. 

"In behalf of your dj legates to the Baltimore Convention we render an 
account of the manner in which they have discharged their duty, and of the 
conduct of the Convention towards the State of New York. We found at Bal- 
timore certain gentlemen, known as Conservatives, contesting our seats. 
Knowing that they were not sent there by the Democracy of our State, nor ac- 
cording to any recognized usage of the party, their first object was to have 
your delegates rejected without the examination of their credentials. Accord- 
ingly, prior to the meeting of the Convention, the Conservatives, with some of 
the friends of General Cass and of the Southern delegates, consulted together, 
and resolved to bar the door of the Convention against your representatives, 
by proposing a test before examining their credentials. The Conservatives 
designing to pledge themselves into the Convention, met on AAmday morning, 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


and resolved to fulfil their contract with the South. The Committee on Cre- 
dentials, before even asking for them, proposed a resolution refusing Mo 
open the discussion, until each party should pledge themselves to abide the 
decision ' of the Convention, and to support its nominees. This extraordi- 
nary resolution was denounced by gentlemen, North, South, East and West, 
as unprecedented and dishonorable. On a division the vote was 14 to 14 ; but 
at that critical moment little Delaware appeared and cast her vote to shut and 
bar the door against the Democracy of the Empire State. Your delegates 
would have been unworthy to represent you and faithless to the high truMt 
confided to them had they hesitated for an instant to repel an insult to our 
State, by proposing to us a condition which had not been offered to the dele- 
gates of any other State, and which had been repudiated by the Convention. 

" They immediately handed in their protest, declaring « that the delegates 
of the Democracy of New York must be admitted to the Baltimore Convention 
unconditionally, or not at all,' and withdrew from the Committee room. The 
Conservatives took the pledge," (the Conservatives, I may remark, were the 
party to which Daniel S. Dickinson, Horatio Seymour, James T. Brady, and 
Charles O'Conor belonged ;)" and the Committee resolved, 'that the dele- 
gates from the State of New York, designated by the name of the Syracuse 
and Albany Delegation, are entitled to seats in the Convention.' This extra- 
ordinary report was repudiated by the Convention. We were graciously 
allowed to be heard ; but when we offered our credentials objection was made, 
and they were returned to our Chairman." (This Chairman was Preston King, 
afterwards Republican Senator from New York, who obtained an unenviable 
notoriety in Mrs. Surratt's case.) " Not daring to reject us direotly, both dele- 
gations were admitted, 125 to 124. Great efforts were made by the friends of 
General Cass to have this vote reconsidered ; but it was twice sustained, and 
finally by 133 to 118. Although this vote disfranchised our State, it was a 
severe rebuke to the Committee. 

" Senator Hannegan, the most active friend of General Cass in the Con- 
vention, then made a last effort, by offering the following resolution : ' That 
the delegates of the Syracuse Convention of New York are rightfully entitled 
to cast the electoral vote of said State in this Convention.' This, the only 
direct proposition to admit the Conservatives, was, after another appeal by 
Senator Dickinson to the South, laid upon the table by the decisive vote of 
157 to 95. Thus did the Convention, by a large vote, virtually decide that the 
Conservatives *ere not rightfully entitled to cast the vote of our State, and 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


admit that we were, — for one or the other were un questionably delegates to 
the Convention. 

" fiat onr credentials, or the justice of our claims, had little to do with the 
decision of the Baltimore Convention. We were, in effect, rejected on two 
other grounds, — we were not the friends of General Cass, and we had dared to 
reaffirm the imperishable principle of Thomas Jefferson, reported in 1784, and 
voted for unanimously by Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Geor- 
gia, that slavery should no$ be extended to free territory. It was repeatedly 
declared in and out of the Convention, and some of the Southern delegates 
resolved unanimously that on that ground alone the Utiea delegates must be 
rejected, without regard to the charaoter of our credentials, or the indisputa- 
ble justice of our cause. Had the patriots of the old Continental Congress 
from the South been delegates to the Baltimore Convention, they would have 
been rejected by the modern Democracy of most of the Southern States ; nay, 
had Thomas Jefferson himself appeared, he would have been rejected ; aye, 
even by ' democratic ' Virginia." (And yet within two little months the 
authors of this Address, including Mr. Tilden, were at the Buffalo Convention, 
with Gerrit Smith, Fred Douglass, and Joshua R. Giddings, tearing to shreds 
the compromises of the Constitution and laying the foundations of the Repub- 
lican party. ) 

" There was no Democracy in New York but the Conservative Democracy, 
which would accord with the modern Democracy of the South,— no others had 
any right to send delegates to the Baltimore Convention. The delegates from 
almost all the non-slaveholding States stood upon the same ground that we 
did; eleven of them bad almost unanimously resolved against extending 
slavery to free territory, and in favor of non-interference with Southern rights 
and institutions ; but New York must, as in 1844, be sacrificed. The Con- 
servatives have gained their point ; they have, by stratagem, kept New York 
out ot the Convention, and have, by that means alone, secured a nomination 
which never would have been made had it been a full National Convention. 
Had New York been represented, General Cass could never have been nomi- 
nated. Another fact stamps the character of the Convention, and of this 
nomination : while New York was refused her right to cast her 36 votes, a 
gentleman representing a single parish or town, making one-seventh part of a 
Congressional district, was allowed to cast the nine votes of South Carolina. 

if Onr State having been disfranchised, our Democracy insulted, and your 
delegates virtually uded without even the reception of their credentials, 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


we declined taking seats in the Baltimore Convention, and resolved on recom- 
meuding to the Democracy of New York to send delegates to a Convention at 
Utica on the 22d of June. The Democracy of the Empire State can never 
with honor support the nominee of a Convention which disfranchises our State ; 
they can never, until they abandon the principles of Thomas Jefferson, vote 
for any candidate for the Presidency who is pledged to veto any and every bill 
prohibiting the introduction of slavery into free territory ; and they can never, 
without disgracing themselves, unite with the Conservaties of this State, who 
have declared in a Convention of the Union that they would never consult, 
nor act in any manner whatever with the representatives of the Democracy of 
New York. 

" The Baltimore Convention has proclaimed to the world that it can elect 
its candidate without New York ; it has made the issue : — let the old guard 
respond to this declaration and meet the issue fearlessly and triumphantly 
now, as they did in 1800, in defending the imperishable principles of Thomas 

"We have now discharged our duty, we trust to the satisfaction of every 
sound and fearless Democrat throughout the State ; and we have as delegates 
but one more duty to perform. We have told you that we presented our cred- 
entials to the Convention, and that their reception was objected to. We 
would not dishonor our State by offering them a second time ; and we now, 
through you, return them to the incorruptible and undaunted Democracy of 
the Empire State." 



It is not necessary to examine in detail this precious document, which 
emanated from Mr. Van Bureu's predatory faction of office-hunters. How Mr. 
Tildeu, after writing such a tissue of misrepresentations could have had the 
hardihood to write his Kent letter of October 26, 1860, I leave to that gentle- 
man of fertile resources to explain. 

Here is an extract from the latter : 

" I never adopted the doctrine of absolute and universal exclusion by 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


Federal legislation of slavery from all territories, and still less that of the 
exclusion of new slave States. * * The division was the year after com- 
posed while the slavery question was still unsettled." (4 ) 

The Bolters' Convention here recommended by Mr. Tilden was accordingly 
held at Utica on the 22d of June, 1848. An address, was issued by this conven- 
tion whose authorship was ascribed to Tilden and B. F. Butler. It was written 
uuder the supervision of their chief, Martin Van Buren. Here is an extract 
from it which affords very refreshing reading side by side with Tilden's letter 
to Kent. "Believing that Congress has the power to prohibit the establish- 
ment of slavery in the territories in question (New Mexico and California) ; con- 
vinced that this power should be exercised, and feeling in our inmost hearts 
that if through the sufferance or by the act of Congress slavery should be en- 
grafted on the institutions of these territories there would be perpetrated the 
greatest crime which in the middle of the nineteenth century a nation can 
commit, we pledge ourselves to each other, to our country and to the world 
that however it may be with others our skirts shall be clear of a guilt so enor- 
mous. Not for the fee simple of all the lands to which the question relates ; 
not for the perpetual reversion of all the offices of the Federal Government 
would we bring upon our souls the weight, or upon our posterity the curse of 
any voluntary agency in the deed of shame. * * The time has now come 
•when the main question must be met. It can no longer be trifled with, evaded, 
or postponed." In relation to the two old parties of Whigs and Democrats 
the address declares : " The old issues which for the last twenty years have divided 
them are now settled and set asi^e ; a new issue has been presented in which all minor 
differences, arid in' which differences that under other circumstances would be import- 
ant are merged and swallowed up" Italics mine. 

Whether Mr. Tilden wrote that spirited address or not, one thing is certain 
he publicly endorsed it, as the following call proves: 

LFrom the New York Evening Post, July 10th, 1848.] 


" The Democratic Republican electors of the City of New York, and ail 
others in favor of the election of Martin Van Buren as President and of the 
preservation of free territory for free labor, and opposed to any so-called 
compromise which surrenders the best portion of the free soil of Mexico and 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


California to eternal slavery, are requested to meet in the park on Tuesday the 
18th day of July inst., at 6 o'clock in the afternoon, to respond to the action of 
the State Convention held at Utica on the 82nd day of June." 

" Several eminent speakers will address the meeting whose names will be 
hereafter announced. 


WM. P. HAVEMEYER," and others. 
" Democratic Republican Corresponding Committee appointed at the meeting in 
the Park June 6th, 1848." 

And this same Mr. Tilden had the audacity in 1860 to say that the subject 
of slavery had nothing to do with this movement ; that it was a " mere pro- 
test," and was against his "personal wish. " The bolters did not stop here. 
Utica was but a stage and resting place in the progress of their treason to the 
Democracy. They soon struck hands with the Massachusetts abolitionists of 
the fanatical school, with those in New York of the Gerrit Smith and Fred* 
Douglass or Liberty Party, and with those in the West who followed the lead 
of Joshua R. Giddings. The Free Soil Buffalo Convention of the 9th of Au- 
gust, 1848, was the result. In that conclave the Black Republican party of 
to-day was born. Samuel J. Tilden was a delegate to this Free Soil Conven- 
tion. Martin Van Buren and Charles Francis Adams were nominated at 
Buffalo for President and Vice-President. The whole United States was in a 
roar of laughter at the outcome of the motley gathering. - Daniel Webster 
took up the laugh in a speech at Abington, Massachusetts, on the 9th of 
October, 1848. " A party has arisen," said the Great Expounder, " which calls 
itself the Free Soil party. I think there is a good joke by Swift or some writer 
of his time, who wished to ridicule some one who was making no very tasteful 
use of the words ' natale solum, 1 

' Libertas, et natale solum ! 
Fine words ! I wonder where you stole 'em.' 

tl Gentlemen, children at school, you know, often amuse themselves in 
drawing fantastical images, putting the heads of some animals upon the bodies 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


of others and thus producing resemblances of all monstrous, all prodigious 
things. Now, I think if one of these juvenile limners had a fancy to try his 
hand at political caricature, and should draw the Whig party, and put Mr. Van 
Buren's head upon it — or him at its head rather - he would make an image that 
would create more laughter than the celebrated Gerrymander. " 

War on the South was the cry of the Buffalo Convention. The " Northern 
man with Southern principles'' had become the Nemesis predicted by Calhoun, 
who would yet stab his inventors and benefactors to the heart. He was about 
to do it. What a spectacle ! Martin Van Buren whom the Abolitionsts had 
denounced and execrated as a " doughface " and traitor to the North, whom 
the South had lifted upon its great shoulders and carried triumphantly over its 
own Calhoun into the Presidency, Van Buren had become the standard- 
bearer in the great anti-Southern crusade, the arch-leader of the Abolition host, 
the first nominee for President of its first national convention, the precursor 
of Seward in the " irrepressible conflict" between the North and the South. 
Cass was defeated and Van Buren and Tilden were satisfied. Seward now 
stepped forward with the weapons Van Buren had invented for him, and the 
rest came about with the accelerated progress of cause and effect. 

In conclusion, I may remark that Mr. Tilden, a Puritan both on his 
father's and mother's sides, inherits that hostility to the Cavaliers which he 
manifested so bitterly in 1848. His political, historical and race sympathies 
and prejudices are all against the South. His two recognized interpreters, Mr. 
Charles A. Dana and Mr. Montgomery Blair, are constantly impugning the 
motives and assailing the conduct of the Southern people. A double-leaded 
editorial appeared in Mr. Dana's paper, the New York Sun, on the 30th of May, 
1880, in which it was charged in relation to Mr. Tilden's election as President 
of the United States, four years ago, that " he was defrauded of the office 
through a Republican and Secession conspiracy." 

Some months ago Mr. Blair published a letter over his own name, in the 
same paper, in which he declared that Lucius Robinson's defeat, when he ran 
for Governor of New York last fall, was brought about through a corrupt bar- 
gain between the leaders of the Southern Democracy and Mr. John Kelly. 
This apocryphal bargain was entered into according to Mr. Blair in revenge 
for Mr. Tilden's anti-Southern war claims letter of 1876. It would be quite 
easy to find a better reason for it in Mr. Robinson's political record (5). The 
relations between Messrs. Tilden, Dana, and Blair are of the most confiden- 
tial character, and the inspiration of these attacks on the South is not far to 
be sought. 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Mr. Jefferson once said that Charles Fen ton Mercer was John Adams's re- 
siduary legatee in Virginia ; Mr. Tilden, I think, is a like legatee of Martin 
Van Buren in New York. But, however much the plastic hand of Van Buren 
may have shaped him, he is a Puritan of the Puritans in his hostility to the 
Cavaliers. Strange when George Washington the Cavalier, was in Massachu- 
setts fighting its hattlesin the Revolution, that this Puritan's grandfather 
should have been a Tory (6) who was looked up in Plymouth jail by the 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


Note 1, p. 30. Tildens's Kent letter demolished by his chief. Martin Van 
Buren devotes the eighth chapter of his work. " Inquiry into the Origin and 
Course of Political Parties in the United States," to a discussion of the Dred 
Scott case and slavery. The right of the Supreme Court to " guide the official 
action of the Executive and legislative departments of the Government upon a 
great constitutional question," is tjius treated by Mr. Van Buren : 

" In the notice I propose to take of that case, it is not my intention to 
discuss the correctness or incorrectness of the decision that was made in re- 
spect to the power of Congress to legislate upon the subject of slavery in the 
territories. I will, however, state in advance and in few words the view I 
now take of the general subject. ' 

lt The acquiescence of the country in the power of Congress referred to, from 
the Presidency of Washington to that of Polk inclusive, is well known. 
Every President signed bills for carrying it into effect, when any such became 
necessary and were presented for their approval, and the other great depart- 
ments of the Government not only complied with the rule but in innumerable 
instances, recognized its validity. This continued until the year 1848, when a 
point, which had so long been considered settled, was brought in question by 
an opinion expressed by General Cass, then being a candidate for the Presi- 
dency, in a letter to Mr. Nicholson, of Tennessee, adverse to the powers of 
Congress. The Democratic party, whose candidate he was, adopted his opinions, 
and the consequences were a rupture in that party, the elevation of an old school 
Federalist to the Presidency, and an administration of the Federal Government upon 
the long exploded principles of Federalism." — Pp. 354-55. I have myself made 
the italics, in order to call particular notice to Mr. Van Buren 's flat contra- 
diction of Mr. Tilden's absurd and apologetic explanation of the nature of the 
bolt or •' division n as he calls it of 1848. 

Note 2, p. 30. Mr. Charles Francis Adams, who was the candidate of the 
Buffalo Convention for Vice-President, thus points out the real issue of 1848: 

"General Taylor had very much distinguished himself by his Mexican 
campaign, and the Whig party seized the earliest opportunity of enlisting him 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


in its ranks. * * When it came to this, that we were called to elevate 
to the highest post of the country, as a reward for his services, a slave-holder, 
having every possible inducement to perpetuate the evil of which we com- 
plained, it proved a heavier load than we could bear. The consequence was a 
very considerable secession from the (Whig) party, and an effort to bring be- 
fore the public an independent nomination. This was carried out in what has 
ever since been remembered as the Buffalo Convention. Simultaneously with 
this movement, a similar one had been made in the Democratic party, a section 
of which of considerable force in New York, dissatisfied with the nomination 
of Lewis Cass, ultimately consented to make a part of the same assembly. 
The end was the nomination of Mr. Van Buren, and a declaration for the first 
time of a system of policy distinctly founded upon the true issues agitating 
the country." — Address on the life of Wm. H. Seward, delivered before the 
Legislature of New York, April 18th, 1873, by Charles Francis Adams. 

Note 3, p. 30. Thomas H. Benton the friend and former champion of 
Van Buren, thus speaks of the Buffalo Convention : " It was an organization 
entirely to be regretted. Its aspect was sectional — its foundation a singlo 
idea. * * Deeming all such organizations, no matter on which side of 
the question, as fraught with evil to the Union, this writer, on the urgent re- 
quest of some of his political associates went to New York to interpose his 
friendly offices to get the Free Soil organization abandoned. But in vain. 
Mr. Van Buren accepted the nomination, and in so doing, placed himself in 
opposition to the general tenor of his political conduct in relation to slavery. 
I deemed this acceptance unfortunate to a degree far beyond its influence upon 
persons or parties. It went to impair confidence between the North and the 
South, and to narrow down the basis of party organization to a single idea, 
and that idea not knowu to our ancestors as an element in political organiza- 
tions. * * Mr. Van Buren accepted a nomination made against his earnest 
wishes, and, although, another would have been .nominated if he had refused, 
yet no other nomination could have given such emphasis to the character of 
the Convention and done as much harm."— Benton's Thirty Years in the United 
States Senate, Vol. II. p. 723- 

Note 4, p. 43. In his Kent letter of October 26th, 1860, Mr. Tilden said : 
" I never adopted the doctrine of absolute and universal exclusion, by Federal 
legislation, of slavery from all Territories, and still less that of the exclusion 
of new Slave States." But he was a delegate to the Buffalo Convention, and 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


approved its platform and resolutions, and stumped New York for its oandi- , 
dates. Here is the eighth resolution of that Convention : 

[eighth resolution.] 

" Resolved, That we accept the issue which the Slave power has forced 
upon us, and to their demand for more Slave States and more Slave Terri- 
tories, our calm and final answer is : No more Slave States and no more Slave 
Territories. Let the soil of our extensive domains be ever kept free." 

Is the language I use in the text too strong to characterize such a misrep- 
resentation as the Tilden-Kent letter f 

Note 5, p. 45. Extracts from the Official Report of the proceedings of 
the Fremont Black Republican Convention, held at Syracuse, July 24, 1856 : 

" A resolution for the appointment of a committee of two from each Judicial 
District, to prepare resolutions and an address, was offered. Carried. The 
committee was appointed as follows: Messrs. Lucius Robinson, Noah 
Davis, etc. 


< " The time has come for Democrats to declare their independence of those 

I packed conventions which have lately assumed to dictate the measures and 

i the candidates of the democracy. That party of glorious memory, which once 

- spoke and acted for freedom, has fallen into the hands of officeholders and 

political adventurers. * * * 

"Mr. Buchanan, the candidate of the Cincinnati Convention, standf pledged 
to make the resolutions of that convention his rule of faith and practice. 
Such a candidate, under such circumstances, we cannot support. Shall we, 
then, throw away our votes t That we cannot do, for two reasons : One, that 
we shall thus indirectly contribute to Mr. Buchanan's election; the other, 
that there is a choice. Mr. Fremont, who has been nominated by the Repub- 
licans, is an acceptable choice. In his hands the Presidential office will be 
vigorously and justly administered. We have, therefore, nominated him for 
the Presidency, and his associate, Mr. Dayton, for the Vice-Presidency, and 
we ask you, Democrats of tho State of New York, to ratify this nomination. 

" Committee on Address." 

Digitized by CjOOQIC 


[from the resolutions.] 

" Resolved, By the Democrats of New York here assembled, representing the 
Democracy of the State, that we repudiate the last convention of the Demo- 
cratic party in this State, and the late Convention at Cincinnati, and all their 
proceedings, and will act as independently of them as if they had never 
assembled. * 

" Resolved, That as Democrats we stand on principles which do not change 
with the clamor of packed conventions, or the schemes of seekers after 


" Resolved, That because the nominees of the Cincinnati Convention are 
pledged to make the resolutions of that convention their guide and rule of 
conduct, and because their election would prolong and tend to perpetuate the 
deplorable misrule of the present Administration [Pierce's], and because the 
opinions of John C. Fremont and William L. Dayton agree with our own, we 
hereby nominate them for the offices respectively of President and Vice-Presi- 
dent of the United States, and will use every honorable effort to secure their 
election, that we may rescue the Presidential office from the degradation into 
which it has fallen, and the politics of the country from the corruption which 
iB fast undermining our best institutions. [ 

[Signed] " LUCIUS ROBINSON, > 

NOAH DAVIS," &c, \ 

"Committee on Resolutions." i 

I trust some member of the present Cincinnati Convention, in the light of j 

the above proceedings, will ask Mr. Robinson to explain how he comes to be i 

back at*that city as a delegate to a Democratic Convention. i 

Note 6, p. 46. Samuel J. Tilden is a descendant of the Tildens of Scituate, 
Mass. His authorized biographer, the clever Mr. Theodore P. Cook, of the 
UHoa Observer, tells us that Mr. Tilden's " ancestors were among the earliest 
recruits to the little band of Puritan Pilgrims who settled Massachusetts." 
— (Life of Tilden, p. 1.) Then Mr. Cook continues on the same page: 
" Nathaniel Tilden had sent his brother Thomas to America in the ship Ann in 
1623, and in 1628 had received a deed of land in Scituate, the first recorded in 
that place.'' Again Cook says : "In 1790 Gov. Tilden's grandfather, John 
Tilden, removed to the State of New York, and made his home in Columbia 
County " (p. 3.) But the writer is mysteriously silent about grandfather John 
Tilden's antecedents at Scituate. Somebody has wittily said that a "bio- 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 


graphy is either a satire or a panegyric." Frequently it is a little of both. 
Bat, thanks to the preternatural zeal of the Puritans for genealogy, I have 
been able to hunt up the Revolutionary record of John Tilden, of Scituate. 
Here it is : " Samuel J. Tilden, lawyer and Democratic politician, b. New 
Lebanon, Col. Co., N. Y. His father was a farmer, whose ancestors settled at 
Scituate, Mass., in 1636."— -(Drake's Dictionary of Am. Biography, letter T.) 
Passing from Drake, I came next to that learned and indefatigable pedigree 
hunter, Lorenzo Sabine, another Massachusetts author. In his a Biographical 
Sketches of Loyalists Of the American Revolution," published by Little, 
Brown <fc Co., in 1864, Sabine says that the whole Tilden family of Scituate 
were rank Tories. But as I am dealing with important historical facts, my 
readers will prefer to have the historian's own language. All this was not 
dreamed of in 1876. Here it is, and may it be long in the light of these facts 
before the Democratic party shall have so far fallen from its high estate as to 
be led by the grandson of a British Tory of the Revolution ! 

"Tilden. Four of this name, of Marshneld, or Scituate, Mass. John" (so 
we have John at last), *' Stephen and Joseph, who fled to Boston in 1^75, but 
returned home and gave themselves up to the mercy of the Whigs, and were 
committed to jail in Plymouth. Upon petition to the Council for release, they 
were discharged on condition of payment of the expenses of the proceedings, 
and of not departing from their own estates (except to attend public worship), 
without leave of the Committee of Correspondence of Marshneld. Israel (Til- 
den), of the last mentioned town, was proscribed and banished in 1778." — 
(Sabine's American Loyalists, vol. 2, p. 587.) It will be seen above that Mr. 
Cook, who was Gov. Tilden's authorized biographer in 1876, and who wrote 
under the Governor's direct inspiration, informed us that his hero's ancestors 
were settled at Scituate, Mass., and that in 1790 the latter's " grandfather, John 
Tilden, removed to the State of New York." 

Digitized by VjOOQlC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 

Digitized by VjOOQIC 


Digitized by VjOOQIC 


3 9015 05960 4228 


«*- ~ >'« 


* •* 

• ^ 


» . x *>